5G regulation and law in Hungary

Information current as of 17 December 2019

What is the state of 5G deployment in Hungary?

In June 2019, the National Media and Infocommunications Authority (NMHH) published the draft documentation on its website containing details of the auction of the frequencies suitable for wireless broadband services. The auction was originally scheduled for the autumn of 2019, which was the official start date for the 5G auction.

Key features of the auction procedure

Anyone meeting the conditions of participation may bid. The winners will receive the usage rights for 15 years, which may be extended once for an additional 5 years. NMHH determined the elements of the frequency set of more than 400 MHz on offer based on the expected market interest and relying on industry-wide consultation. Considering that the 700 MHz frequency band is currently used for television broadcasting, mobile services may only be provided in this frequency band after the conversion of the television broadcasting, i.e. from September 2020.

Total lots available in the auction:

  • two 25 MHz lots in the 700 MHz frequency band (to be used in tandem because of the access method) with a starting price of HUF 4 billion (approx. EUR12 million);
  • two 15 MHz lots in the 2100 MHz frequency band (to be used in tandem because of the access method) with a starting price of HUF 4 billion (approx. EUR12 million);
  • 15 MHz in the 2600 MHz frequency band with a starting price of HUF 1 billion (approx. EUR3 million);
  • 310 MHz in the 3600 MHz frequency band with a starting price of HUF 1.5 billion (approx. EUR4.5 million).

On 13 September 2019, NMHH approved Magyar Telekom, Telenor Hungary and Vodafone Hungary's participation in the spectrum auction, but it didn't admit the application of Digi Hungary’s parent company, Digi Communications, as the operator failed to meet the auction's eligibility criteria. Such decision was upheld at second instance on 28 November 2019. Digi Communications said it will challenge NMHH's decision in court as it deems NMHH's move as "unfair and without legal grounds". The auction has already been delayed with regard to Digi’s appeal in the administrative procedure, but may be further delayed if the court suspend the auction on Digi’s request.

Which telcos and communications players are launching 5G services?

Three of the current mobile operators have been registered for the 5G auction: Magyar Telekom, Telenor Hungary and Vodafone Hungary. The fourth participant, Digi Communications, has not been registered due to a failure to meet the eligibility criteria.

In the meantime, Vodafone Hungary has already launched its commercial 5G service in central Budapest using its existing frequency set in the 3.5 GHz band.

Are there any public tenders for spectrum licences?

Yes.

What are the conditions?

In general, the NMHH carries out the following functions:

  • develops technical and legal rules for the distribution and allocation of frequency bands and the terms of use;
  • publishes the requirements of frequency use, conditions for obtaining usage rights and information related to charges;
  • maintains databases;
  • conducts frequency auctions, issues radio licences; and
  • verifies compliance.

The authority sells the usage rights of frequencies at auctions. In order to ensure clean and sustainable market competition, anyone meeting the conditions of participation may bid at such auctions. Licences are awarded for 15 years. To see specific terms of the licenses please click here.

What has the government said regarding spectrum licenses for commercial use?

According to the president of the NMHH, the regulator's main aim is to facilitate the provision of high-quality, versatile and innovative 5G services at affordable prices, ensuring that telcos can rely on a secure and predictable regulatory environment.

Are the rules for 5G already drafted, and if so, what do they say?

No. The spectrum usage rules are technology neutral, according to the NMHH’s radio-spectrum strategy for 2016-2020. The same applies for electronic communications regulation.

What are or would be the rules for granting competitors access to the new 5G networks, once they are deployed?

Since there is no specific 5G regulation yet, and the authority has not indicated that there will be, presumably the general electronic communications regime will apply.

Dóra Petrányi
Partner
Budapest