Operators ask the Government to delay the last 5G auction for at least a year

The main operators in the country have positioned themselves against holding the auction of the 26 GHz band this year, the only priority band for 5G that remains to be awarded, and have proposed postponing it until 2023 or 2024, until the technology to take advantage of it mature.

In its summary of the contributions to the public consultation on how the auction should be, the Secretary of State for Telecommunications and Digital Infrastructure underlines their position: “They consider that there is currently no demand for this band, so it makes no sense to prepare an auction”.

Sources from the sector confirmed this position to Europa Press and recalled that the operators have already made “huge investments” in spectrum, rates and the deployment of 5G, where they must also comply with coverage obligations. Likewise, these sources indicated that there are still no devices that work in that band and that their uses are not completely clear either.

Despite these requests, the Government plans to continue with the auction with a view to holding it at the end of the year. In the general budgets it was stipulated that the Executive expected to enter 140 million euros from this process and it is one of the reforms included in the Recovery, Transformation and Resilience Plan.

MásMóvil, Orange, Telefónica and Vodafone participated in the public consultation on behalf of the operators and a total of 30 entities. In it, the equipment manufacturers (Ericsson, Huawei, Nokia and Qualcomm) disagreed with each other, since some supported the tender, while others warned that the equipment will not be “mature” until 2025.

On the other hand, the employers’ associations of different sectors (among which DigitalEs, which represents the operators, is not found) have been in favor of the tender, considering that it may be an opportunity to promote the ecosystem, while the engineering associations believe that there is already sufficient technical and technological maturity to carry out a tender, but “economic and market maturity of the ecosystem” is lacking.

26GHZ band

The Executive has analyzed during this year the contribution of a total of 30 entities to the consultation on the uses and the model that should be used for this last 5G band, which has a large amount of spectrum to distribute, but when it is located very high, the transmission of information only covers small spaces.

For this reason, the uses of this band are expected to be selective and focused on areas with a high concentration of traffic, emergency uses, a complement to fiber or business applications, such as creating a private network in an industrial complex.

Precisely, another of the differential aspects of this band is that the Government plans to reserve a part of the spectrum for industrial and local uses, another point of friction with the operators.

In this case, the operators indicated that the entire spectrum should be auctioned among themselves and they would later be in charge of ceding it to companies in the secondary market, since they foresee a low demand for these services, unlike other more industrialized countries such as Germany.

However, the rest of the actors, including the Government, advocate reserving a part of the available spectrum for self-provision services. In this way, the companies themselves would request frequencies from the Government, which would open up the business of creating private networks to other actors, one of the new verticals in which operators, infrastructure companies such as Cellnex or technology companies such as Amazon have taken an interest. Web Services.

For their part, the satellite companies requested guarantees that the services deployed in this band do not interfere with the connectivity services they provide in the immediately higher band (28 GHz).

Aid for business 5G

At the moment, the exact date of the auction is not known, but the Government plans to launch aid for business projects that use 5G before the end of the summer.

The aid will be for projects with budgets between 3 and 15 million euros and will have an allocation of 60 million euros in 2022 and an additional 30 million euros in 2023.

With this boost, together with research grants, the Executive seeks to promote the development of the use of this technology and its business applications, which will increase the number of connected devices and reduce latency and energy consumption, among other factors.

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