Germany’s telecoms regulator believes a call by politicians for operators to provide 5G coverage across the country is not feasible, as it published a draft for a 2019 5G licence auction.
A letter sent by members of the ruling Christian Democrats to Bundesnetzagentur, seen by Reuters, stated the draft did not form “a solid basis” for the 5G auction, and called for Deutsche Telekom, Vodafone Germany and Telefonica Deutschland to provide coverage along transport routes and in rural areas.
Bundesnetzagentur president Jochen Homann stated “a nationwide buildout with 5G technology would be excessively costly,” but said proposed auction terms did include a requirement for data speeds to be doubled. The regulator plans to auction 2GHz and 3.6GHz frequencies.
Homann added longer-range frequencies, which would provide connectivity to users in remote areas, would be auctioned in coming years.
The draft will be reviewed next week by a supervisory board which includes elected lawmakers, many of whom are being pressed by voters to improve connectivity in the country. A final decision is expected in November.
Meanwhile there is also the question of whether a fourth player will enter the market.
The letter said operators should provide access to competitors in areas where they themselves don’t have coverage, with the agency acting as a referee if a dispute was to arise.
If this condition is met, it could open the door for prospective new entrant United Internet.
In an interview with press agency DPA, Vodafone Germany CEO Hannes Ametsreiter expressed concern that part of the spectrum was reserved for regional licences, which he noted could serve as a “backdoor” for a fourth operator.