In the European harmonized bands for broadband mobile/fixed communications networks (MFCN), ANCOM grants frequency usage rights based on competitive selection procedures (auctions). These rights are technologically neutral, i.e. licence holders can use any technology they want (e.g. GSM/2G, UMTS/3G, Lte/4G or IMT2020/5G). However, the latest technologies are more efficient and offer higher performance, thus being preferred by operators and users, while older technologies are abandoned. Moreover, communications equipment requires standardized frequencies (for example, a 5G smartphone uses specific frequencies in certain technologies throughout Europe ).
Radio spectrum for MFCN is a limited resource and it has a significant economic value. The increasing consumption of mobile data, at ever higher speeds in run-up to 5G, is fuelling the need for additional spectrum.
In 2022, the networks in Romania used 805 MHz of radio spectrum to provide services to users, of which 70 MHz were awarded following the ANCOM selection procedure of November 2021.
In the November 2022 selection procedure (aka the “5G auction”), ANCOM awarded usage rights (licenses) for 420 MHz, i.e. an additional amount of 110 MHz starting from 2023, an additional amount of 50 MHz starting from 2026, and the currently used 260 MHz, for which new licenses are to be issued starting from 2026. Thus, the networks in Romania can use a total of 915 MHz already in January 2023, and a total amount of 965 MHz from January 2026.
For the 70 MHz awarded in the November 2021 selection procedure, the winning operators paid €43.4 million. For the 420 MHz allocated in the “5G auction” in 2022, the operators have to pay €432.6 million.
License fees are revenues to the state budget.