Swedish telco Telia has criticised the decision by the national regulator PTS to discontinue the on-going auction of frequencies in the 700 Mhz band for mobile broadband, suggesting it was a step back for digitalisation in Sweden.
The Swedish Government made the decision that the 694-790 MHz frequency space should be available for terrestrial television broadcasting subject to a permit obligation up to and including 31 May 2018.
This decision revokes the decision made by the Government in 2014 to release the frequency space for other use from and including 1 April 2017. As the auction planned by the Swedish Post and Telecom Authority (PTS) in the 700 MHz band includes parts of this frequency space, PTS made the decision to discontinue the auction process.
The auction would have started on 1 December 2016.
“The consumption of data in mobile networks is increasing by over 80 per cent annually,” noted Hélène Barnekow, Telia’s Executive Vice President Head of Region Sweden. “To meet the huge increase in demand it is essential to have access to more spectrum. Without, Sweden risks to get a negative trend with lower speeds in mobile networks, especially in rural areas where access to appropriate frequencies is limited. To use the 700 MHz band for mobile services is crucial for Sweden to be able to take the next step in the digitalisation. Therefore, we regret the Government’s decision,” she said.
“It is crucial that important public functions have access to future proof communication and we welcome that this will be further investigated. However, further investigation should not be the reason for stopping the auction of the 700 MHz band. The mobile operators have shown that they can deliver a secure, cost effective and fast implemented solution for public safety through the commercial mobile networks. It is now important that the authorities, together with the market participants sit down and discuss what solutions there are for the public safety functions,” she concluded.
Catarina Wretman, Acting Director-General of PTS, said she had decided to discontinue the auction process as a consequence of the Government decision concerning the frequency space in question. “The Government has announced that the reason for today’s decision is a changed security policy situation and that there is an ongoing investigation into an advanced and secure broadband solution for stakeholders within public order, health, security and defence. The Government decision has altered the preconditions for the assignment in the 700 MHz band in such a way that we cannot implement the auction as planned. We intend to resume work on how the band should be assigned when these preconditions have become clear,” she advised.