5G licenses help operators to bring better internet coverage to rural areas

Communication mast.
Communication mast. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

The ending of 5G frequency licensing competitions will bring better internet connectivity to rural areas, even though the frequency blocks that are auctioned will not provide extremely high data speeds.

The Consumer Protection and Technical Regulatory Authority (TTJA) issued a call for six 5G licenses in the 700 MHz spectrum band at the beginning of September.

Aap Andreas Rebas, the communications adviser at the TTJA, told ERR that the call for applications lasts for another few days and then the Authority will announce the participants, after it has checked whether they meet the requirements of the call.

This final competition round should result in better internet coverage for rural areas within two years: the license holder will be expected to make at least 50 percent of the service available to end-users in each county within two years, and 95 percent within four years.

The exceptions are the counties of Ida-Viru, Jõgeva, Tartu, Põlva and Võru, where it is not possible to provide the same level of coverage due to Russia's present limitations.

Rebas said that this competition is important for telecommunications businesses since the 700 MHz spectrum will provide excellent coverage.

"To provide their services, communication operators use various frequency bands. The network is built in layers of frequencies, and each frequency has slightly different properties," he explained. "Lower frequencies provide better coverage, particularly in rural areas."

This frequency band, however, is not ideal for transferring large amounts of data; higher frequencies would be better suited.

The frequency license put up for tender will be awarded on the basis of an auction. Each participant may win no more than two frequency blocks. One frequency license begins at a price of €1 million.

The TTJA intends to distribute the licenses to operators by the end of the year.

Alongside 3.5 GHz and 26 GHz, the 700 MHz range is regarded as one of the most important 5G frequencies.

Elisa Estonia won the first 5G frequency license auction in the 3410-3800 MHz band at the end of May with an offer of €7.2 million, and Telia Estonia won the second auction in July with a bid of €8.5 million.

The third 5G license was handed to Tele2 Estonia, who bid almost €1.6 million.


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Editor: Kristina Kersa

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