Game of frequencies
Yesterday was one of the most anticipated days of the Turkish communication industry. The sheer excitement about the tender of new mobile frequencies was not much different than a techno-political thriller. Turkey is very keen on using mobile data services and currently the backbone of the mobile network cannot handle the demand for data. Therefore on April 10, 2015, it was decided to hold a tender for 4G permits, to be held on May 26, 2015. Both the public and mobile operators were looking forward to assigned day, until our President Tayyip Erdoğan gave a technology lesson to the universe on April 24, 2015, and declared that we don’t need 4G, we could directly jump to 5G technologies. He underlined that he won’t let Turkey to be a trash bin for old technologies.
After this declaration hit the news and major players were confused by Erdoğan’s declaration, the tender was postponed on May 25, 2015 to yesterday.
In the meanwhile, Turkish citizens became experts on 4G and LTE. Thanks to Erdoğan, we learned that 5G is not an established technology yet. It will be possible to implement 5G in 2020 at the earliest. Also, we learned that the investments that will be done for 4G will not go to waste, as 5G will be based on the established 4G networks and know how.
I believe Erdoğan was also convinced that the tender actually could be held yesterday.
Cellular frequencies are sets of frequency ranges within the ultra-high frequency band that have been allocated for cellular phone use. All cellular phone networks worldwide use a portion of the radio frequency spectrum designated as ultra-high frequency, or “UHF,” for the transmission and reception of their signals.
The ultra-high frequency band is also shared with television, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth transmission.
Five companies were interested in buying frequencies. They were Turkcell, Vodafone, Avea, Huawei and Netgsm. Huawei did not bid for anything. Netgsm were seen as incompetent by the authority but I learned that Netgsm will go to the courts to protest this.
The government expected to earn around 3 billion euros by selling the following frequencies and bands:
800 MHz for A1, A2, A3,
900 MHz for B1, B2, B3,
1800 MHz for C1, C2, C3,
2100 MHz for D1, D2, D3,
2600 MHz FDD for E1, E2, E3, E4,
2600 MHz TDD for F1, F2, F3, F4.
There were 20 available packages to buy. The tender was still going on as I was writing. Therefore, I don’t know the final outcome but from what I have seen, Turkcell dominated the more expensive packages. The differences between the frequencies are immense.
The highest bands, 2100 and 2600, have greater data capacity than the other bands, so they can deal with loads of people connecting at once, but do not fare so well over long distances, making them ideal for cities and other compact, densely populated areas but not so good for rural locations.
The 800MHz band is the spectrum on the other end. While it doesn’t provide the same data capacity as the 2.6GHz band, the 800MHz frequency can easily travel over long distances and will be used to provide broadband speeds to rural areas where telephone exchanges can’t reach.
So what we witnessed yesterday was a game to buy out the frequency packages that suited best the networks’ current and future customer base. The operators tried not to pay more than they should for frequencies that they will rarely use and they did everything they could to buy out the frequencies their customers demanded.