Latvian mobile communications operators pay a pretty penny for 5G frequency rights

Three Latvian mobile network operators will pay EUR 13.273 million for the rights to use 700 MHz frequency range for their respective 5G network services, as reported by Latvian Public Utilities Commission (SPRK).
Revenue from SPRK’s organised frequency use rights auction will return to the state budget within six months’ time.
The biggest amount – EUR 5.758 million – will be paid to the state budget by JSC Latvijas Mobilais telefons (LMT). JSC Tele2 will pay EUR 4.655 million and JSC Bite Latvija will pay EUR 2.860 million.
Three baseband usage rights for 20 years were sold on 16 December, which was the first part of the auction. These rights will be in force from 1 February 2022 until 31 January 2042. The initial price of each baseline was EUR 2.2 million. Each auction participant was able to acquire one baseband. In eight parts of the auction all three Latvian mobile network operators acquired three baseband use rights worth EUR 8.803 million.
LMT paid EUR 3.523 million for 713-723 MHz and 768-778 MHz frequency range, Tele2 paid EUR 2.420 million for 703-713 MHz and 758-768 MHz frequency range, and Bite paid EUR 2.860 million for 723-733 MHz and 778-788 MHz frequency range.
The second part of the auction took place on the 16th and 17th of December, when two additional band usage rights for 17 years (1 February 2025 to 31 January 2042) were auctioned off. The price of each baseline was EUR 150 000. Each auction participant was able to acquire up to two additional frequency bands.
Two mobile operators acquired two additional bands for EUR 4.470 million in 179 stages of the auction. LMT acquired 748-758 MHz frequency range for EUR 2.235 million and Tele2 acquired 738-748 MHz frequency range for EUR 2.235 million.
Now winners of auctions will need to perform investments into electronic communication network’s creation and its development.
For example, a report compiled by the Ministry of Transport suggests to adopt the fifth generation public mobile electronic communication network (5G) in Latvia, mobile communication operators will need to dynamically expand the use of base band outside large cities along land transport roads, including Via Baltica road.
SPRK notes that it is the duty of operators to dynamically develop their network coverage.
«Considering the characteristics of this range of frequencies and conditions under which frequency range use rights were acquired, it is expected users will receive the biggest benefits in less populated areas. With data flow increasing, network capacity will be increased elsewhere, providing equal coverage in areas in which there may have been a shortage in the past,» explains SPRK chairman Alda Ozola.
By providing frequency use rights, SPRK maintains a technological neutrality principle. This means mobile communication operations should have no obstacles on the path of introducing new technologies.
Radio frequency bands are a limited resource. This means radio frequency use rights can be acquired, rights can be extended, annulled or passed on to someone else only with a written request to SPRK.