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More broadband: Regulatory authority allows use of GSM frequency bands for UMTS and LTE

The regulatory authority resolved on the refarming of existing frequency usage rights in the GSM ranges (900 MHz and 1800 MHz) in its meeting of 28 July 2014. With immediate effect, these frequency bands can be also used for UMTS (3G) and LTE (4G).

More spectrum available for broadband

“All three mobile operators will benefit from the liberalisation of the 900 MHz and 1800 MHz frequency bands. Thanks to refarming, they can use a considerably greater portion of their existing frequency spectrum for the provision of broadband services by means of UMTS and LTE than before“, said Johannes Gungl, CEO Telecommunications and Postal Services Division at RTR, explaining the decision of the regulatory authority. “The mobile spectrum usable for broadband will thus increase from currently 59% to almost 90%“, Gungl continued.

Both LTE and UMTS are technologically more efficient than GSM. UMTS and LTE do not only have a considerably higher peak data rate than GSM but also allow for higher capacity. Thus, it is possible to achieve higher data throughput per unit area and frequency bandwidth.

Liberalisation strengthens competition

Fast refarming of the GSM frequency usage rights was necessary from a competitive point of view to strengthen broadband competition with LTE.

The positive economic effects created by this decision of the regulatory authority are increased capacity for broadband services, more coverage spectrum for the supply of rural areas with broadband and long-term cost savings due to higher technical efficiency.
Regulatory authority urges operators to perform defragmentation
Another barrier to an efficient use of frequencies is the current fragmentation of the frequency spectrum in use, i.e. operators have several smaller packages in one frequency band, which, however, are not adjacent. “We, as a regulatory authority, would welcome it for the purpose of even more efficient frequency usage if operators could agree on defragmentation, i.e. on a trade-off of frequency packages, under private law. We have eliminated the regulatory barriers to such trade-off, now it is up to the operators to take action“, explained Gungl. “It would be much better to use many small roads to build a motorway, then one can move forward faster!“

The decisions (in German) as well as further information on frequency allocation procedures are available at https://www.rtr.at.

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