Spain fails to allocate the digital dividend

The Spanish Administration will fail to meet its self-imposed deadline of Jannuary 2014 to complete the allocation of the so-called digital dividend to telco operators for 4G (LTE) services.

The process will take until the end of 2014 or the beginning of 2015 as the government is unable to comply with the timetable, which was already modified to bring it forward one year.

In the recently approved Digital Agenda, the Administration removed a clause whereby it undertook to allocate the 800 MHz frequencies currently used by the DTT broadcasters before January 1st 2014. The main problem that is causing the delay is a recent ruling from the Supreme Court overturning the cabinet’s agreement in 2010 to allocate a whole multiplex (with up to four channels) to the broadcasters Antena 3, Tele 5, Sogecable, Veo 7, Net TV and La Sexta.

The Court’s decision may put the whole DTT map in disarray with telco operators unable to launch their LTE services until the frequencies are released. DTT broadcasters meanwhile reject the new allocation of DTT channels as a result of the ruling.

In the meantime, telco operators, which paid €1.8 billion for the 800 MHz frequencies, are doing tests with LTE services at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona this week.

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