5G regulation and law in Poland

Information current as of 14 January 2020

What is the state of 5G deployment in Poland?

The Ministry of Digitalisation, in the “5G Strategy for Poland” (January 2018), set three specific objectives:

  • Adopting a coherent 5G implementation policy in Poland;
  • Covering, by 2025, all urban areas and major rail and road transport routes with the new 5G network; and
  • Designating one large city in which the 5G network will be operating on commercial terms by the end of 2020 (the city would be Łódź).

Additionally, in the justification to the draft act amending the act of 7 May 2010 on supporting the development of telecommunications services and networks, two additional objectives were indicated:

  • Ensuring, by 2025, wide public internet access of a bandwidth of at least 100 Mbps based on networks that will also enable the provision of services with bandwidths measured in Gbps; and
  • Providing, by 2025, internet access of a bandwidth of at least 1 Gbps to all major drivers of socio-economic development (such as schools, healthcare units, public service delivery points and transport hubs).

The following issues are mentioned among the main barriers to the development of 5G technology in Poland:

  • The issue of PEM limits (exposure to electromagnetic field) – due to the restrictions in this respect, there are plans to raise the PEM limits to half the standards in force in other EU countries;
  • The need to simplify, and shorten time limits for, the administrative process for the construction and modernisation of base stations;
  • Removal of prohibitions and restrictions on the location and use of base stations in parks and health resorts; and
  • Legal and financial limitations related to the construction law and the law on public roads (e.g. the problem of fee rates for occupation of a road lane – for more details, only in Polish, see here).
  • Some of the other barriers were removed when the so-called Mega Law (i.e. the act supporting the development of telecommunications services and networks) was amended in August 2019.

Which telcos and communications players are launching 5G services?

Exatel together with the Polish Development Fund (Polski Fundusz Rozwoju) and major telcos in Poland (i.e. Orange Polska, T-Mobile Polska, Polkomtel and P4/Play) are working on a business model for building a common infrastructure for the 700 MHz band. In October 2019, with the participation of the Ministry of Digitalisation, a memorandum was signed on the analysis of the business model for the company #Polskie5G (more information available here, only in Polish).

Polkomtel (“Plus” network operator) is starting the construction of the first commercial 5G network in Poland on the 2600 MHz TDD frequency. It is expected that in the first quarter of 2020, clients from at least 7 Polish cities will be able to use the new technology (more information available here, only in Polish).

Are there any public tenders for spectrum licences?

No. However, in December 2019 the Office of Electronic Communications (UKE) began consultations on the auction of four frequency reservations in the 3.6 GHz band. The subject of the consultation proceedings is, inter alia, the draft auction announcement, draft auction documentation and draft decision on the frequency reservation (available here, only in Polish).

In addition, in April 2019 the UKE, after the public consultations, published preparation materials for the public tender for the frequency 3600-3800 MHz (available here, only in Polish).

What are the conditions?

In accordance with the draft auction documentation, frequencies covered by the reservation may be used until 31 May 2035, which is equivalent to the date of the end of the reservation period. The operator of the frequencies is obliged to start using the frequencies and to start offering commercial telecommunications services with their use within 6 months of the date of delivery of the reservation. Additional conditions, including conditions for using the frequencies, are to be defined based on the outcome of the consultation proceedings.

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

The Ministry of Digitalisation is taking action to increase the efficiency of radio spectrum management and to improve the way in which the radio spectrum is allocated by auction and tender. Additionally, in the “5G Strategy for Poland” it indicated that a transparent and flexible legal framework regulating the use of and access to the radio spectrum is crucial to support the timely implementation of the 5G network. It also stressed Poland’s willingness to actively engage in international radio spectrum harmonisation activities.

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

The August 2019 amendment to the Mega Law on supporting the development of telecommunications networks and services amends numerous regulations, including the Telecommunications Act, the Construction Law and the Law on Public Roads.  The changes should facilitate the construction of telecommunications networks, inter alia, by regulating issues related to payments for the occupation of road lanes, as well as facilitating the construction of telecommunications infrastructure in areas such as national parks and health resorts. Importantly, from the point of view of 5G network implementation in Poland, is also the change of the body issuing regulations determining the PEM limits (i.e. the minister competent for health in place of the minister competent for the environment). 

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

No clear information has been published at present.

Picture of Tomasz Koryzma
Tomasz Koryzma
Partner
Warsaw