Media

Mobile Operators to Switch to Frequency Bands Won in 2012 Auction

31.03.2014
 
Today, the winners of spectrum resources through the auction organised by ANCOM in 2012 have started performing the necessary interventions to their networks in order to migrate to the 900 MHz and 1800 MHz bands under the terms established by the respective auction.
The licences for the use of these frequency bands allotted by ANCOM to the four mobile operators (Cosmote, Orange Romania, RCS&RDS, Vodafone Romania) are entering into force on 6 April 2014 and are valid through 5 April 2029. Prior to the entry into force of these licences, the operators are performing technical interventions on their networks, required to ensure the transition to the spectrum resources awarded in the 2012 auction, according to common migration plans.
The actual switch-over will take place during the night of 31 March - 1 April, between 00.00 and 4.00 hours for the 1800MHz band, whereas the date for the 900 MHz switch-over will be established later this week and will be duly announced. The hour interval chosen is one during which the operators usually register the lowest traffic. Within the transition process, signal loss, busy tone or other technical errors similar to those occurred during routine maintenance works may happen for short intervals.
The operators informed the Authority that they have taken all the measures to ensure a quick and effective transition, and that the conducted works will have a minimum impact on the provision of services to the end-users. The Authority’s fixed and mobile technical teams will permanently monitor the process and will support the operators throughout the transition for a successful outcome.
 
Additional Information
In the second half of 2012, ANCOM organised the auction by which it granted the rights of use of the radio spectrum in the 800, 900, 1800 and 2600 MHz bands for the provision of mobile communications services - voice and data, up to 2029. For the first time in Romania, the spectrum licences were granted by a competitive selection procedure. The starting price for each block of the four bands was established by Government Decision, the licence fees resulted following the auction amounting to EUR 682,136,036.
Following the spectrum auction, the amount of spectrum available for mobile communications increased by 77%. The new spectrum resources allow the implementation of 4G mobile communications technologies and generate additional business opportunities and innovation, while ensuring greater efficiency as regards the use of spectrum. Moreover, the new allotment of radio frequencies offer the Romanian users access to 4 national networks with better coverage, higher data transfer speeds, as well as more and better services provided at competitive prices.
Under the new licences, the operators have a series of obligations regarding service coverage and service quality, as well as the obligation to ensure, by certain deadlines, the coverage with voice services of inhabited areas counting at least 98% of the population of Romania, for the operators who own 2G/3G or 3G networks and acquired spectrum resources in the 800 MHz and/or 900 MHz bands, and, respectively, coverage of 30% of the population for 2K Telecom, which obtained spectrum resources in the 2600 MHz band. Moreover, the operators must ensure the coverage with broadband data services, with a downlink rate of at least 2 Mbps and with a probability of indoor reception of 95%, for inhabited areas counting 60% of the population (respectively 30% for 2K Telecom), within the provided deadlines.
Furthermore, the operators having obtained spectrum resources in the frequency bands under 1 GHz (800 MHz and/or 900 MHz) – Cosmote, Orange, RCS&RDS and Vodafone – have the obligation to ensure priority coverage for a number of localities that are not currently served by broadband communications networks. Therefore, 676 such rural localities will benefit from broadband data services with a downlink transfer rate of at least 384 kbps, by 5 April 2016. As well, through these licences, the operators are bound to limit network unavailability to maximum 35 minutes within a 6-month period. 
Each holder of the licences granted by ANCOM has the obligation to conclude national roaming agreements for the provision of access to the unique number for emergency calls – 112 – with the other holders of licences for the use of radio spectrum, so that the calls to 112 could be performed despite the user’s location outside the coverage of the subscription network. Moreover, in case of the requests addressed by operators with radio access networks covering 30% of the population, the holders must conclude agreements for periods of up to three years, thus enabling, on temporary bases, the provision of electronic communications services in the geographical areas outside the coverage of the radio access network of the national roaming requester.