KPN, T-Mobile and VodafoneZiggo acquire frequencies in Dutch mobile communications auction
In a Letter to Parliament today, State Secretary Mona Keijzer for Economic Affairs and Climate Policy, officially announced that three businesses had acquired frequency space through the Dutch Multiband Auction. The newly-acquired frequencies will enable telecom providers KPN, T-Mobile and VodafoneZiggo to provide fast mobile communication services such as 5G to consumers and businesses. The Dutch government allocated both existing and new frequencies through the auction (which started on 29 June) in an effort to meet the ever-growing demand for data.
The three involved telecom providers will be expected to meet various standards as a part of the auction requirements. These include the coverage requirement, under which they must achieve mobile coverage across 98% of the surface area of each Dutch municipality, and standards for the minimum speed provided to consumers and businesses. As a result of these requirements, the Netherlands' mobile internet speed will come to average over 100 Megabits per second. The auction, which ended today, raised a total of 1,23 billion euros.The three involved telecom providers will be expected to meet various standards as a part of the auction requirements. These include the coverage requirement, under which they must achieve mobile coverage across 98% of the surface area of each Dutch municipality, and standards for the minimum speed provided to consumers and businesses. As a result of these requirements, the Netherlands' mobile internet speed will come to average over 100 Megabits per second. The auction, which ended today, raised a total of 1,23 billion euros.
State Secretary Mona Keijzer for Economic Affairs and Climate Policy: “Mobile communication is an important basis for future digital innovations in care, agriculture, education, manufacturing and mobility. The Netherlands is a worldwide digital leader and aims to maintain this position by meeting companies, organisations and consumers' urgent need for fast, reliable and secure mobile communications. The outcome of this auction will also ensure sufficient competition in our telecoms market until 2040, delivering quality, innovation and reasonable prices for consumers and businesses.”
The 700, 1400 and 2100 Megahertz (MHz) frequency bands were allocated over the course of a multi-round auction. A total of 26 licences with a term of twenty years were auctioned for the three bands. Three participants had been admitted to participate in the auction.
Measures had been taken to ensure that participating market players had access to no more than 40% of the available frequencies. This percentage includes all current licences held by the various providers. The measures are designed to ensure sufficient competition on the telecoms market. A second high-speed mobile communications frequency auction will take place in early 2022. The 3.5 Gigahertz frequency band will then be auctioned off.
Court ruling: sufficient research and restrictions on the health aspects of mobile communication
The Dutch government is adequately and purposefully monitoring the health aspects of mobile communication technologies. The Court of The Hague reached this verdict following preliminary relief proceedings on the health aspects of current and future technologies such as 5G in late May of 2020. The Court rejected all claims by the plaintiffs.
The Court found Dutch telecoms policies to be based on scientifically valid, independent and current studies by health organisations such as the RIVM, Health Council of the Netherlands and WHO. The Court also stated that the Dutch government properly analysed alternate visions and according to the Court there were no reasons for the Dutch government to adhere to these views. The Court also found the stringent current exposure thresholds and associated compliance efforts to be adequate and deemed the State in compliance with the precautionary principle.
The prevailing international exposure thresholds for electromagnetic fields (EMF) were reiterated and elaborated in March 2020 on the basis of current scientific knowledge. These thresholds provide an extremely generous safety margin. The actual level of exposure measured by Dutch regulatory body Radiocommunications Agency (AT) is generally 10 times lower than the prevailing thresholds. The most stringent threshold is set at 28 Volt per meter (V/m). Most AT measurements average between 0.5 and 3 V/m. AT will continue to monitor compliance with these thresholds.
Telecom network security and integrity
In 2019, the government announced a series of measures aimed at safeguarding telecom networks against threats such as espionage and sabotage. In December, EU-wide agreements on this issue were made and a Dutch General Administrative Order (AMvB) on telecommunication security and integrity was published.
Critical telecom network components must be exclusively sourced from trusted suppliers. The AMvB can be applied to compel telecom providers to exclude certain suppliers from providing critical network components. This January, the European Commission also presented a set of common security measures enabling Member States to control the security risks associated with 5G networks. The current Dutch measures are aligned with this toolbox.
Mobile networks run on local infrastructure
Mobile telecom networks run on antenna systems and the associated fixed data connections. The number of antennas is not expected to increase rapidly in the short term: telecom providers estimate a projected growth of 10 percent in the upcoming years.
Local authorities play an important role in the realisation and maintenance of this infrastructure. With this in mind, the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy provides municipalities with up-to-date knowledge and information. In addition, the Ministry consults on the future of the digital infrastructure in a consortium made up of municipal authorities, the VNG umbrella organisation and the national government.