Dutch competition authority paves way for new infrastructure models

News

Operators in the Netherlands can work together in various ways to speed network deployment and protect investment.

The Dutch Authority for Consumers & Markets (ACM) has published guidelines for the sharing of mobile networks that allow operators to collaborate in certain circumstances to make the most of their investment in mobile networks.

The guidelines cover areas such as site acquisition for masts, spectrum leasing and roaming between 2G and 3G networks to provide IoT services.

“ACM finds it important that telecom operators can invest efficiently in the expansion of the capacity, quality, and coverage of mobile networks,” the authority said in a statement

It continued, “High-quality networks are essential for offering newer and better mobile services to people and businesses. Competition between providers of such services promotes innovation.”

Locating masts

The ACM will allow operators to work together to locate sites for masts, which is a difficult task in many countries as more antennas are needed for higher frequencies and there is a shortage of sites and willing land and building owners.

The regulator said, “Operators are still able to differentiate themselves sufficiently from their competitors, because they offer their services completely independently, and have their own roll-out strategies, spectrums, and networks”.

Operators will also be allowed to lease spectrum to local business service providers as this would accelerate new services and stimulate competition.

The ACM pointed out that since the last spectrum auction, in summer 2020, no operator can use more than 40% of the spectrum available which will protect competition.

Roaming on 2G and 3G

Operators are looking to shut down their 2G and 3G networks over the next few years, which could have an adverse effect on device-to-device communications, with applications like smart meters, vehicle and older machine-to-machine systems.

The new guidelines are designed to mitigate against this by allowing an operator to close down its older generations of mobile networks and run those M2M services by roaming on rivals’ 2G and 3G infrastructure.