European countries look likely to set aside mobile spectrum for private licensing
Licences for spectrum allocated to mobile networks have previously been reserved for MNOs but many European countries look likely to set aside mobile spectrum for private licensing. 5G private networks are dedicated networks, based on 5G technologies, acting as a local area network (LAN) to provide secured connectivity and meeting specific needs (throughputs, latency, security, reliability) within a specific area. Network slicing will be a key component of future 5G networks and will support innovative new use cases and business models. Network slicing will make it possible to allocate network capacity with guaranteed quality of service for particular uses. A private mobile network is suitable for a range of different fields like enterprise IoT services, smart city applications, and industry applications.
The German telecoms regulator, BNetzA, reserved 100MHz of spectrum in the 3700MHz-3800MHz band to private companies. According to the regulator, 33 companies have bought 5G private licences so far including Bosch, BMW, BASF, Lufthansa, Siemens and Volkswagen.
In France, frequencies in the 2600 TDD MHz band (band #38, 2570-2620 MHz) have been offered to metropolitan businesses by the regulator ARCEP. Spectrum is granted through a portal opened in May 2019. The airport operator, ADP Group and its subsidiary Hub One, have been granted a 10-year 4G and 5G license by ARCEP in February 2020 to be used in Paris’ airports. Air France will also benefit from HubOne’s 40 MHz. The major French electricity company EDF has also been awarded a 10-year license in the 2.6 GHz TDD band (20 MHz) on the Blayais nuclear power plant located on the banks of the Gironde estuary near Blaye. The mobility company TransDev has also been allowed to use the 2575-2595 MHz spectrum in Rouen, North West of France from 12 March 2020 to 11 March 2024. Other verticals like national railway company SNCF and Airbus have expressed their interest to the regulatory authority.
In the Netherlands, spectrum at 3400-3450 MHz and 3750-3800 MHz is intended to be made available for local use. Nevertheless, the 3500 MHz auction is planned for 2022 as the band is currently used for satellite communications.
Sweden’s 5G auction of the 2.3 and 3.5 GHz bands will reserve 80MHz of frequencies between 3720MHz and 3800MHz for local and regional licences. The process was initially scheduled for Sprint 2020. It has been delayed at the end of 2019.
In the UK, OFCOM issued a consultation from November 2019 until December 3, 2019 on draft statutory instruments that would support its local spectrum access and spectrum sharing policies. The regulator will dedicate the 3.8-4.2 GHz band for local deployments, requiring national operators to hand over unused licensed spectrum to enterprises. The lower 26 GHz band will be reserved for private and shared access as well.
Other countries outside Europe including the US, Japan, Australia and Hong Kong are also moving forward with their plans to identify and allocate spectrum for localised, private 5G networks with a primary focus on the 3.7, 26 and 28 GHz frequency bands.
The FCC is planning a CBRS 3.5GHz spectrum auction that is scheduled to begin in June 2020 and another C-band auction is expected to begin in December 2020. CBRS will open new opportunities for enterprises to deploy private 4G and 5G networks.
Japan’s communications ministry started to accept applications for the deployment of local 5G networks in December 2019. Tech company Fujitsu announced in February 2020, that it received Japan’s first private 5G provisional license in the 28.2 GHz to 28.3 GHz range. Nokia announced it is building a strategic partnership ecosystem to bring private LTE and 5G networks to industrial and government customers in Japan.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission also announced there would be opportunities for new entrants in the 5G market, including industry verticals to deploy private networks. In Australia, private networks are not new, especially in the mining industry.