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The Dutch auction for the 5G spectrum in the 3.5 GHz band is delayed again. The band has to be shared with Immarsat, a satellite company operating a ground station in the Netherlands. Resultingly, the Dutch ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate recommended delaying the auction for now.

For some time, the Dutch auction of 5G in the 3.5 GHz band has been struggling with problems surrounding the ground station of satellite company Immarsat. This ground station uses a spectrum in the 3.5 GHz band. Among other things, this company provides emergency communication for ships at sea.

Immarsat is planning to move the ground station to Greece, but that won’t happen before 1 January 2024. However, the aforementioned frequencies will be freed up from 1 January 2023 onwards, and can be used for offering 5G services following an auction.

Advice to government

In an advice note to the ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate, an independent committee advises that there’s no other option than to share the frequencies with the satellite company. The government’s response is expected before the summer, but in the meantime, the ministry is following the committee’s advice. Based on the advice, the ministry is drafting a new amendment to the so-called National Frequency Plan (NFP), and will continue to consult with the satellite company on making its intended move to Greece possible.

Companies complain about private 5G development

The advice leads to a further delay of 5G in the Netherlands. In accordance with European legislation, the Netherlands must deploy 5G in the 3.5 GHz spectrum. The auction, however, has yet to take place. 5G’s deployment was previously hampered by a military listening station located in the north of the Netherlands. This listening station has been moved to an unnamed NATO ally.

Telecom operators are pleased that a solution has been found for the problem surrounding 3.5 GHz frequencies. According to Dutch media, companies that want to deploy private 5G networks are less pleased. Various companies, including Schiphol Airport and KLM, are urging the ministry to free up sufficient spectrum for private 5G networks as quickly as possible.

Interest groups for private mobile networks are dissatisfied and afraid that the Dutch business community will lag behind in this area. In Germany, many large companies already use private 4G and 5G networks.

Tip: EU should make big tech pay for telecoms expansion