Hungary’s telecoms authorities have announced plans to sell licenses for unused spectrum that could be used to support 4G services in an effort to boost competition in the market.
In a statement published this week, the NMHH – which regulates Hungary’s telecoms market – said it would tender unused frequencies in the 800MHz, 900MHz, 1800MHz, 2.6GHz and 26GHz bands.
“The sale of the spectrum rights of currently unused frequency bands is expected to heighten competition, accelerate the implementation of broadband coverage, promote the widespread use of up-to-date wireless services, and facilitate the emergence of competitive consumer prices,” said the NMHH in its statement.
Those remarks are likely to trouble the country’s existing players – Maygar Telekom (Budapest, Hungary), Vodafone (Newbury, UK) and Telenor (Fornebu, Norway) – which will naturally fear the emergence of fresh competition in the three-player market.
In September, the NMHH extended the rights of the 900MHz and 1800MHz licenses held by the three incumbents until April 2022, but appears to feel that efforts to extend mobile broadband services have been somewhat lacking.
The NMHH said it would encourage bidders to provide mobile broadband services in parts of Hungary where services are currently unavailable “as soon as possible”.
Although Magyar Telekom – controlled by Germany’s Deutsche Telekom (Bonn) – launched a 4G service in January 2012, it had covered just 37% of the country’s population by July 2013, although it is aiming to reach 80% by 2015.
Telenor, meanwhile, aims to cover just a quarter of the population by the end of this year, while Vodafone has yet to start providing 4G services.
One problem for the operators is that authorities have not yet released any 800MHz spectrum, which has been identified by other European regulators and operators as the band most suited to the rollout of 4G services in less densely populated communities.
Magyar Telekom appears to have been relying on 1800MHz spectrum to provide 4G services, but will hope to capture some of the 800MHz spectrum due to become available in the forthcoming tender – as will Vodafone and Telenor.
According to Dow Jones Newswires, the NMHH expects the tender to raise between HUF 120 billion ($544.4 million) and HUF 150 billion.
Operators have been given until December 20 to submit comments on the tender proposals.