Germany begins auctions for 5G mobile broadband spectrum

20 March 2019

Germany has begun auctions for its 5G mobile broadband spectrum, the next-generation cellular network promising faster speeds, lower latency and new use cases for connectivity.

The auction is expected to last several weeks, with Germany looking to raise between $3.4 billion to $5.7 billion to invest in digitization. The country is offering the auction to four companies: Vodafone GmbH, Telekom Deutschland GmbH, Telefónica Germany GmbH & Co. OHG and Drillisch Netz AG.

Within the next few weeks, 420 MHz from the 2 GHz and 3.6 GHz bands will be auctioned, aiming to create 5G planning and investment certainty and ensure early use of the frequencies for 5G rollout in Germany this year and beyond.

Germany’s Bundesnetzagentur (Federal Network Agency) said the aim is to give consumers and industries enough spectrum to take advantage of 5G's potential. Additionally, Germany wants 5G technology to encourage the development of new use cases for connectivity, services and applications such as automated vehicles, Industry 4.0 and telemedicine.

Meanwhile, the Associated Press reported that Germany is establishing security requirements for 5G technology from suppliers that need to be “trustworthy.” This stems from the warnings about using Chinese-based Huawei equipment for 5G, as the new cell networks could be a back door for digital spying for the Chinese government. Germany didn’t mention Huawei during the initial 5G auctions, but warnings have been sprouting up over the last few weeks from the U.S. Other countries such as Australia and New Zealand vowed not to use Huawei equipment for 5G over fears of espionage.

“There are two things I don’t think much of: first, arguing out these very sensitive security questions on the open market, and second, simply ruling out a participant per se because it comes from one country,” said German Chancellor Angela Merkel. “We should give everyone a chance, but we shouldn’t be naive and should see that there are very different laws in China than here. We must evaluate that and then sound it out in talks with our partners.”

Just this week, Danish service provider TDC selected Ericsson to roll out nationwide commercial 5G, targeting the end of 2020 for deployment. The deal will also work on upgrading TDC’s 4G LTE network and the contract will run through 2023. TDC had previously used Huawei for its cellular network but after the U.S. and other Western nations warned over the use of the company, vendors are turning to other equipment suppliers.

While Germany decides whether to use Huawei as a provider of 5G equipment, the U.K., Italy and other European countries have dismissed the warnings outright.

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