Covid-19 causes Spain to cancel 5G spectrum auction

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Spain has been forced to cancel the next round of the country’s 5G spectrum auctions, which was originally due to take place in May, as coronavirus continues to cause disruption to the roll-out of 5G networks around the world.

According to the GSMA, freeing up further spectrum for use in 5G networks is one of six vital components for the ongoing development of mobile networks.

"“Making additional spectrum available in a timely and affordable fashion is a top priority for accelerating advanced network deployment."

GSMA report.

“In the past, we have identified six regulatory levers that can foster infrastructure investment: making additional affordable spectrum available, facilitating access to site locations, enabling small cell deployment, facilitating deployment of backhaul, permitting the freedom to establish network sharing agreements, and harmonizing power density limits,” the GSMA previously stated.

And in its recent report containing advice and context for mobile network operators and enterprises looking to take 5G to the next level, the GSMA had highlighted the significance of spectrum availability in the 5G ecosystem.

“Making additional spectrum available in a timely and affordable fashion is a top priority for accelerating advanced network deployment,” the GSMA report stated. “Early release is only one aspect of constructive, enabling spectrum regulation. Policymakers also have to strike an appropriate balance among sometimes competing objectives.”

Spain had clearly taken this on board, and as part of a Europe-wide drive to speed up the roll out of 5G the country had been due to free up space in the 700 MHz band of its network, by switching from analogue to digital terrestrial television. This work was due to be completed by June 30.

Government statement

However, in a statement issued by the Spanish government this week, it was confirmed that there would be a delay to the planned auction of 5G spectrum due to the coronavirus outbreak. And the Spanish ministry claimed the delay would enable operators to focus on “maintaining the connectivity of companies and people in this time of health emergency”.

At the time of writing, no new date has been announced for the rescheduled spectrum auction.

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Dan Oliver

Dan is a British journalist with 20 years of experience in the design and tech sectors, producing content for the likes of Microsoft, Adobe, Dell and The Sunday Times. In 2012 he helped launch the world's number one design blog, Creative Bloq. Dan is now editor-in-chief at 5Gradar, where he oversees news, insight and reviews, providing an invaluable resource for anyone looking to stay up-to-date with the key issues facing 5G.