ANACOM imposes obligation to extend mobile broadband coverage to a further 588 parishes

Autoridade Nacional de Comunicações (ANACOM) has decided to impose additional mobile broadband coverage obligations on MEO, NOS and Vodafone following the renewal of these operators' licenses for a further 15 years. As such, ANACOM has approved a list of 588 parishes as potentially lacking mobile broadband (BLM) coverage which will now enjoy this type of coverage.

The purpose of ANACOM’s measure is to bring mobile broadband to a larger number of people and expand coverage to areas where coverage would be more difficult to achieve if operators were left to act based purely on their own commercial interests.

According to ANACOM's decision, each of the mobile operators are required to cover 196 listed parishes, and are provided with a period of one year to notify ANACOM as to the agreement reached on the distribution of parishes between them. If they fail to reach an agreement, ANACOM will decide on the distribution of parishes among the three operators, using a random draw to determine the order in which operators may choose the parishes.

The renewal of licences of mobile operators for a further 15 years will take effect from 2018, whereas operators are granted one year from this renovation date to ensure that all parishes are covered with mobile broadband. A parish is deemed to have coverage when 75% of its population has access to a mobile broadband service that allows a data transmission speed of 30 Mbps (maximum download speed). ANACOM will also approve the methodology for verifying compliance with these additional coverage obligations by NOS, MEO and Vodafone Portugal.

These 588 parishes are in addition to the 480 parishes that mobile operators were obliged to cover with mobile broadband as a result of the regulation governing the multiband auction of 4th generation mobile (4G) spectrum.

ANACOM has already approved the reference speeds that operators will be required to make available for the purposes of the coverage obligations applicable to 480 parishes.

Use of the spectrum near the national border is not currently constrained by any restrictions caused by Spain and Morocco, so that operators are able to undertake coverage of these parishes. The companies now have a period of six months to ensure 50% coverage of the 480 parishes and should cover all parishes within a period of one year.