Coverage obligations imposed by AKOS after auction

Slovenian regulator AKOS successfully completed a multiband spectrum auction. AKOS distributed all offered frequencies. The auction covered the 700 MHz, 1500 MHz, 2.1 GHz, 2.3 GHz, 3.6 GHz and 26 GHz bands. The total proceeds from the auction amount to €164.2m. The new holders of the 15-year licenses must meet certain coverage obligations.

Four Slovenian operators – A1 Slovenija, Telekom Slovenije, Telemach and T-2 – competed for the spectrum from 7 to 14 April. AKOS selected SMRA auction format. The bidding took 41 main stage rounds and 6 supplementary stage rounds.

As a result of the auction, Telekom Slovenije will pay the highest total price – €52.1m. Telemach follows with €51.6m. A1 Slovenija, belonging to the Telekom Austria group, will pay €42.4m. The fourth operator T-2 pays “only” €18.2m. However, T-2 did not win any frequencies in the 700 MHz band.

The licences validity will be 15 years, starting from June 2021. However, the 2.1 GHz band becomes available from 22 September 2021 and the 2.3 GHz band from 1 January 2022. When Slovenia transposes the European Electronic Communications Code, EECC, the licence validity will be extended by 5 years.

AKOS decided to organise the spectrum auction in the SMRA format. The SMRA format proved to have significantly contributed to the swift execution of the action. AKOS chose the format with regard to its simplicity. Moreover, bidding for six bands in a simultaneous auction provided operators with more certainty compared to separate frequency allocation processes.

Coverage obligations

Licensees will have to start using the assigned frequencies on at least one base station within one year. They will also have to cover at least 75% population in at least one major city within five years. The three MNOs who won spectrum in the 700 MHz band must meet additional coverage obligations. Until 31 December 2025, they must cover:

  • 99% of motorways, expressways and population (outdoor coverage);
  • at least 60 % of the main and regional roads; and
  • at least 60 % of active railways by passenger transport, with intra-train coverage being the responsibility of railway stakeholders.

The regulator set also the minimum user experience. The operators gained at least 2 x 25 MHz spectrum below 1 GHz. So their users must now enjoy the minimum speeds of 30 Mbps in download and 3 Mbps in upload.

Besides, within three months, all four operators must start offering services via 5G technology. AKOS requires the start of 5G on at least one of the acquired bands in at least one major city. Also, operators must provide enhanced mobile broadband (eMBB) and support the internet of things (IoT).

Sharing of infrastructure

AKOS wants to promote efficient use of radio spectrum and improve coverage with minimal environmental interference. Therefore, it will actively promote both the passive and active infrastructure sharing, where justified. Active infrastructure sharing shall be permitted e.g. in hard-to-access areas or the network capacity enhancements in very densely populated areas. Sharing in the 26 GHz band shall be generally permitted.

AKOS reserves the right to impose additional obligations on licensees. These may include passive or active infrastructure sharing, as well as local roaming obligations.

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