German telecom regulator, the Bundesnetzagentur (BNetzA), has announced the availability of 700 MHz spectrum for future 5G rollout programs in Germany. The telecom regulatory body expects Germany to see commercial 5G deployments by 2020 and thus is working hard to make the transition smooth for mobile network operators.
The 700 MHz band, previously had been used for terrestrial television services, however, those services have now been migrated to different frequencies. According to BNetzA President, Jochen Homann, the release of the 700 MHz spectrum band would help Germany's mobile network operators offer a more comprehensive service. The additional frequencies are now available nationwide for mobile network operators to improve their coverage, especially in rural areas, according to him.
While the BNetzA had already held the 5G spectrum auction earlier this year, with four major companies acquiring the spectrum, a large portion of the participating operators was critical of the minimum service obligations that were attached to spectrum auctioned. The 700 MHz band spectrum is particularly suitable for use in hard to reach, rural locations because of its comparatively long transmission range, when compared to higher band frequencies, and could help the country's MNOs deliver on their minimum coverage obligations.
EU member states are obliged to free up the 700 MHz band spectrum for 5G usage by the end of June 2020. A deadline of 30 June 2020 (or up to 2 years later with adequate justification) has been set for the reassignment of the 700 MHz frequency band (694–790 MHz) to wireless broadband services in Europe. According to a report by Analysys Mason, originally, the 700 MHz band was envisaged as being suitable to provide additional 4G capacity and was seen as being particularly useful for this purpose in rural areas or towards cell edges. However, more recently, policy makers have been assuming that the 700 MHz band will provide the wide area coverage layer for 5G new radio (NR). The European Commission, for example, has a target of ‘5G everywhere’ by 2025, which, to be achievable, would need to make heavy use of low frequency spectrum (and hence the 700 MHz band).
Click here to know more details about the German 5G Spectrum Auction in 2019.