As part of the auction for frequencies in the 800 MHz and 2600 MHz bands 50 MHz in the 800 MHz band and 140 MHz in the 2600 MHz will be assigned in 2014 in Poland. The NRA presents it opinion on the roll-out of joint networks and shared use of infrastructure and spectrum resources.
The auction involves particularly attractive resources in the 800 MHz band (the so-called digital dividend) thanks to which it is possible to cover with high-speed LTE network the areas so far recognized as unprofitable.
The possibility of obtaining new frequency resources in Poland coincides with technological revolution in broadband data transmission systems, i.e. common use of LTE systems. For the first time in Poland, the operators have at their disposal a technology offering freedom in the choice of bandwidth for radio channels, and consequently, the possibility of adjusting offered capacity to the amount of spectrum held and to the customers' needs.
Internet and multimedia services development undoubtedly drives customer demand for capacity offered by telecommunications networks. In this context, it should be stressed that the resources to be assigned in Poland in 2014 are not sufficient for all operators present in the market, acting exclusively based on the frequencies that they may obtain, to individually enjoy all available benefits of the LTE system.
In the opinion of the President of UKE one of the solutions to this problem seems to be shared use of infrastructure and spectrum resources between operators, which in addition to one obvious advantage, i.e. lower costs of network roll-out and maintenance, ensures a number of other benefits, such as:
- increased and more flexible use of network capacity available for an operator,
- the possibility of offering customers larger capacity and consequently new services,
- increased quality of offered services, and
- effective use of radio spectrum.
The advantages of spectrum sharing are also recognized by the European Commission which in its Communication to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions titled Promoting the shared use of radio spectrum resources in the internal market of 3 September 2012 (COM(2012) 478), mentions one of the effects of shared use of spectrum to be additional spectrum resources available. This in turn contributes to increased competition in the telecommunications market and consequently reduced spectrum access hurdles for new users.
In its Communications the Commission confirms the advantages of this solution and states that finding additional shared spectrum resources for wireless broadband could create significant net economic benefits for the EU. With an increase of between 200 to 400 MHz in shared access spectrum for wireless broadband, the scenarios evaluated in the study show a net increase in the value to the European economy of the order of several hundred billion Euros by 2020. The Commission further points out that to satisfy growing demand, more efficient use and innovation are crucial. Within the next decade, technological progress may enable an increasing number of users to share simultaneous rights of access to a specific frequency band. However, the regulatory environment must allow this to happen.
The President of UKE fully supports the Commission's position as quoted above.
As the authority in charge of regulatory policy aiming in particular to support competition in access to telecommunications networks, associated facilities or the provision of telecommunications services, including:
- ensuring that users, including disabled users, derive maximum benefit in terms of prices, choice of services and quality,
- efficient investment in infrastructure and promoting innovative technologies,
- supporting efficient use and management of frequency and numbering resources,
it takes the view that the shared use of spectrum subject to auction seems to be an optimal solution.
However, as observed by the European Commission, the regulatory environment is crucial here. Such sharing should not lead to monopolization of the market by entities sharing the spectrum and to distortion of competition in the telecommunications market as a consequence.
In the opinion of the President of UKE this particular circumstance is very important due to the fact that competitive imbalances may result in another negative phenomenon in the telecommunications market, i.e. limitation of retail offers available for consumers, both in terms of their number, choice, quality and price.
In the opinion of the President of UKE effective use of spectrum may be achieved, inter alia, by means of shared use of infrastructure or spectrum, as stressed in recital 12 of the Decision No 243/2012/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 14 March 2012 establishing a multiannual radio spectrum policy programme according to which easy access to spectrum may require innovative types of authorisation such as collective use of spectrum, or infrastructure sharing, the application of which in the Union could be facilitated by identifying best practices and encouraging information sharing, as well as by defining certain common or converging conditions for the use of spectrum. Under Article 4 of this Decision titled Enhanced efficiency and flexibility, paragraph 1, first sentence, Member States, in cooperation with the Commission, shall, where appropriate, foster the collective use of spectrum as well as shared use of spectrum.
It should be also stressed that shared use of infrastructure has become a global trend allowing telecommunications operators to reach synergies in network development. The assignment of frequency resources in the 800 MHz and 2600 MHz bands constitutes a unique opportunity for operators to take advantage of shared use of infrastructure as early as at the stage of network design and roll-out.
Referring to the present situation in the telecommunications market in Poland and the auction for frequencies in the 800 MHz and 2600 MHz bands as announced today
, UKE would like to stress that the shared use of spectrum in the 800 MHz band, for instance in a configuration of 2 x 15 MHz + 2 x 15 MHz, would totally revolutionize the offer of broadband data transmission operators.
The benefits of using modern, faster transmission technology in the LTE systems would be further enhanced by 2- or 3-fold increase in capacity compared to that achieved using channels with 5 MHz bandwidth. It is also substantially important that for the first time in history less urbanized areas would be also covered, which would mean a next step in eliminating digital exclusion and building information-based society.