On 5 December 2019, the Dutch government commenced a public consultation for the Dutch multiband spectrum auction. In the spring of 2020, the 700, 1400 and 2100 MHz frequency bands will be distributed in a multi-round auction. The government aims for at least three 5G licensees, with an individual 40% spectrum cap, including existing frequency holdings. The proposed minimum licence bid is EUR900 million and the three major Dutch telecom network operating companies KPN NV, VodafoneZiggo and T-Mobile are expected to participate, though no company is excluded from participating. The Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Policy (the “Ministry”) will not provide any information about the total number of participants or their names during the auction. The winning parties will be announced subsequently and the State Secretary will make the entire bidding process public.
The 700 MHz band, which concerns a relatively limited amount of spectrum (2 × 30 MHz) in a low frequency band, is currently part of a broader licence of KPN / Digitenne for digital terrestrial TV. According to this licence, the 700 MHz band will become available for mobile telecommunications by 2024.
For the 3.5 GHz band, which has been identified as a 5G “pioneer” band, licences have already been issued, mostly for local networks. In September 2022 some of these licences (3500 - 3700 MHz) will expire and 200 MHz frequency space will be made available for mobile communications. From September 2026, the other licences with regard to the 3.5 GHz band will expire (3410 - 3500 MHz, 3500 - 3600 MHz and 3700 - 3800 MHz). The 3410 - 3500 MHz band will then also become available for mobile communication. The 3.5 GHz band will be auctioned at the beginning of 2022, which means that spectrum could become available by September 2022.
On 24 June, the Ministry published a mobile communications memorandum (Nota Mobiele Communicatie) which sets out the conditions of the auctions.
The 3700 - 3800 MHz bands will be made available for local use from 2026 onwards. The conditions under which these bands will be issued/auctioned will be published well in advance of the expiry of the licences. The 3800 - 4200 MHz band will continue to be used for commercial satellite communication.