5G regulation and law in Spain

Information current as of 11 November 2019

What is the state of 5G deployment in Spain?

There was a previous auction in 2015-2016, where spectrum rights in the 3.5 GHz band were granted.

On July 2018, following the relevant auction procedure, the Spanish State granted the use of the 3600 to 3800 MHz band to different operators. After such granting, several operators have increased their involvement in 5G technology pilot projects and programmes which started in 2017.

Main commercial operations involving 5G technology are expected to take place during 2020.

On April 2019, Orange and Vodafone entered into a network sharing agreement for the deployment of 5G in towns below 175,000 inhabitants (almost 15,000 sites).

On 15 June 2019 Vodafone has launched its 5G offer for consumers (not yet for industrial purposes) in 15 Spanish cities: Barcelona, Bilbao, Gijón, La Coruña, Logroño, Madrid, Málaga, Pamplona, Santander, San Sebastián, Sevilla, Valencia, Vigo, Vitoria and Zaragoza.

On 1 October 2019, Orange and MásMóvil announced an additional network sharing agreement for the deployment of 5G in the 40 biggest cities in Spain (about 4,500 sites, covering 35% of the Spanish population), plus a roaming agreement for MásMóvil in order to provide 5G services in the rest of the Spanish territory through the Orange network, where the MásMóvil network had not yet been deployed.

During the first half of 2020, it is foreseeable that the 700 MHz band will be available and a public tender will subsequently be called. Neutral wholesale network operators (such as Cellnex), with industrial focus, may then have an opportunity to enter the market.

Which telcos and communications players are launching 5G services?

Vodafone, Movistar, Orange and MásMóvil have been granted with 5G bands (Vodafone was granted 90 MHz as a result of the July 2018 auction).

Only Vodafone has effectively launched 5G services to the public for the time being, but the other operators will follow soon.

Are there any public tenders for spectrum licences?


What are the conditions?

  • The tenderer must be qualified as an operator, in accordance with the definition of operator set forth in the General Telecommunications Law (the “Law”).
  • The tenderer shall prove sufficient economic, financial, technical or professional solvency. Annual turnover for the three years prior to the auction shall be equal to or higher than €90million. The telecommunication networks installed and the relevant electronic communication services rendered by the tenderer during the three years before the auction should have an annual value equal to or higher than €42million.
  • The tenderer shall file, together with the application for taking part in the auction, documentary proof that the guarantee set forth in the relevant regulation for taking part in the auction has been duly constituted.
  • The maximum frequency limit available to an individual successful tenderer in the 3.43.8 GHz Band is 120MHz (including previous rights).
  • The term is 20 years.
  • The concession grants nonexclusive rights. No future indemnity for entrance of new players.
  • Price: minimum €2.5million / 5MHz. Total price resulting from the tender: €437million.
  • Service neutrality (art. 66.2 Act 9/2014) and technological neutrality.
  • Spectrum available: 40 blocks of 5 MHz (200 MHz in total).
  • Result: Vodafone 90 MHz, Orange 60 MHz, Telefonica 50 MHz.
  • Spectrum rights cannot be sold to third parties during the first two years. Afterwards, only with previous administrative authorization

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

The Government, by means of the Order ETU/531/2018 referred to below, called for the first auction aimed at allocating the right of use of the public radioelectric domain in the band 3600-3800 MHz. Following this auction, it has encouraged operators to carry out, to the extent possible, pilot projects and programmes for the purpose of ensuring that the 2020 goal set for first commercial operations is successfully achieved.

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

  • Order ETU/531/2018, issued on 25 May 2018, approved the tender specifications applicable to granting, by means of auction procedures, the right of use of the public radioelectric domain in the band 36003800 MHz, and calling for the relevant auction.
  • Royal Decree 123/2017 24 February, approving the regulation on the use of public radio domain. It establishes the need for an enabling title for the private use of the public radio domain and a series of prerequisites for its granting, as well as for the development of the Law.
  • Royal Decree 1066/2001 28 September, approving the regulation establishing conditions for the protection of the public radio domain, restrictions on radio emissions and health protection measures against radio emissions, establishing other restrictions on radio emissions, the evaluation of equipment and apparatus and the applicable sanctioning regime.

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

The rules have not been yet established. The Law (art. 12.2) established the obligation of the 5G network operator to negotiate with other operators.

Picture of Javier Torre
Javier Torre de Silva