Wednesday, 06 July 2022

Lithuania begins long-awaited 5G spectrum auction

by Harry Baldock, Total Telecom
Wednesday 25 May 22

The Lithuanian Communications Regulatory Authority (RRT) will make spectrum in the 700MHz band available to the operators

While most of Europe is now in the process of rolling out 5G networks, the Baltic countries have been notably slow to adopt the new technology, having faced various delays to the auction processes, from the onset of the coronavirus pandemic to internal squabbles surrounding licencing obligations.    Latvia was the first of the three to successfully award spectrum back in January this year…

While most of Europe is now in the process of rolling out 5G networks, the Baltic countries have been notably slow to adopt the new technology, having faced various delays to the auction processes, from the onset of the coronavirus pandemic to internal squabbles surrounding licencing obligations. 
 
Latvia was the first of the three to successfully award spectrum back in January this year, with all three of the country’s major mobile operators – Tele2, Latvijas Mobilais Telefons, and Bite Latvija – winning a block of 700MHz spectrum each. 
 
Estonia’s auction, by contrast offering spectrum in the 3.5GHz band, is currently underway, with bidding having already exceeded reserve prices by over €1 million, according to reports. 
 
Now, it is Lithuania’s turn to finally reach their 5G milestone, with the RTT announcing the launch of the nation’s first 5G spectrum auction. 
 
The auction will make two 10MHz blocks of 700MHz spectrum available at a reserve price of €5 million, with a two smaller 5MHz blocks available at a reserve price of €3 million. The spectrum licences will be valid for 20 years.
 
The RTT has confirmed that all three of Lithuania’s mobile operators – Bite Lithuania, Tele2 Lithuania, and Telia Lietuva – have registered to participate. 
 
Winning bidders for the spectrum will have numerous obligations to fulfil, including launching commercial 5G in at least one of Lithuania’s five largest cities (Vilnius, Kaunas, Klaipeda, Siauliai, and Panevezys) within six months and all five by the end of 2023. They will also need to provide communications services to at least 98% of Lithuanian territory and speeds of 30 Mbps or 15 Mbps, depending on block of spectrum won, to 80% of Lithuanian houses, state highways, railway lines, airports, and seaports. 
 
It is worth noting that 5G services in Lithuania were launched commercially by Telia back in January, with the operator making use of dynamic spectrum sharing technology from Ericsson allowing them to leverage spectrum in the 2.1Ghz band currently being used for 4G. Telia followed a similar blueprint to launch 5G services in Estonia back in 2020.
 
Telia’s rivals, Tele2 and Bite, have instead opted to wait for the upcoming spectrum auction.  
 

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