On the basis of an agreement concluded on 24 July 2002 between the Minister of National Defence and the President of the Office of Telecommunications and Post Regulation (URTiP) a working team for the analysis and review of frequencies used by the military and civil users was formed. It was agreed by the team that 11 groups of frequencies within different bands (including those for the purposes of GSM and UMTS) would be successively handed over by the Ministry of National Defence over subsequent years. The results of this work contributed to drafting an ordinance of the Council of Ministers of 16 January 2003 on National Frequency Allocation Table, which indicated new frequencies for civil services.
Starting from January 2004 military services released the last group of GSM 1800 MHz frequencies and another group of frequencies for the purposes of UMTS. As a result the GSM 1800 MHz band was totally released for civil users as well as there opened up enhanced possibilities for the development of network and mobile telecommunications services of third generation (3G).
The UMTS frequency bands recently handed over to civil services are equivalent to the resources that are at the disposal of existing operators of the UMTS network, i.e. Polkomtel S.A., Polska Telefonia Cyfrowa Sp. z o.o., PTK Centertel Sp. z o.o. It must be stressed, however, that this is not the last stage of releasing frequencies by the Ministry of National Defence assigned in the National Frequency Allocation Table to the UMTS mobile telephony systems.
The analysis conducted by the URTiP aimed at the management of released frequency resources has indicated the following issues to be examined:
According to the President of the URTiP, a discussion on how the released frequency resources for the GSM 1800 MHz and UMTS mobile telephony could be used should be started. The analysis of the possibilities for the assignment of frequency bands to mobile networks presented today is at the same time an invitation to a discussion directed at economic chambers, operators and scientific circles. Official positions submitted to the Office over the next three months will be published on the website: www.urtip.gov.pl.
Public debate on the use of new frequency bands for the GSM 1800 and UMTS systems will enable it to find out the opinions of circles linked to the telecommunications market as well as to specify potential interest from operators in these resources.
The submitted positions will be considered in the course of further work on the assignment of released frequencies as well as organizational, legal and conceptual preparations for the management of these resources.
I. GSM 1800
According to a decision of the European Radiocommunications Committee (currently Electronic Communications Committee) the 1710-1785 MHz and 1805-1880 MHz frequency bands have been assigned for the system of digital mobile telephony of the cellular structure operating in the GSM 1800 standard (formerly DCS – Digital Communication System).
The management by the Minister of Communications of frequency resources within the 1800 MHz band, successively released by the Ministry of National Defence, has so far consisted in the assignment of new frequency channels to three operators of the GSM 900 MHz mobile networks (i.e. Polkomtel S.A., Polska Telefonia Cyfrowa Sp. z o.o., PTK Centertel Sp. z o.o.) without tenders. Regular supplementing the networks with new frequency channels enabled the three operators to use from the end of the 90’s on two-band mobile phones (GSM 900 and 1800 MHz), automatically switching between the bands depending on the quality of the connection signal.
It should be stressed that this technical solution as well as the roll-out of DSC networks (currently GSM 1800) of country wide coverage at that time placed Poland among leading European countries.
Currently available frequency resources for the GSM 1800 MHz mobile telephony systems can be used in two ways:
UMTS (Universal Mobile Telecommunication System) is a mobile telephony system of the third generation (3G) enabling the provision of various advanced telecommunications and multimedia services. For this reason it requires faster transmission rates and a sufficiently broad frequency band.
Of all frequency bands assigned to the UMTS system the following bands are available in Poland:
Taking account of the availability of frequency resources, the Minister of Communications on 20 December 2000 issued three licences (to Polkomtel S.A., Polska Telefonia Cyfrowa Sp. z o.o., PTK Centertel Sp. z o.o) for the deployment of 3G mobile networks operating in the UMTS standard. At the same time three equivalent duplex (symmetric) radio channels within the frequency band for the purpose of the UMTS system were assigned.
All licences were issued with a validity date till 1 January 2023. Operators were obliged to launch services starting from 1 January 2003, but not later than from 1 January 2004. Following applications from the three UMTS operators the President of the URTiP has twice prolonged deadlines for the launch of 3G services, every time by one year. It is therefore expected that the UMTS network will probably start operating at the beginning of 2006.
Starting from 1 January 2004 there exists in Poland one set of radio channels within the UMTS band equivalent to what remains at the disposal of three existing UMTS network operators.