Altice’s statements made yesterday in Madeira regarding the development of 5G in Portugal and the release of the 700 MHz band currently allocated to DTT, as well as the existence of any implication for the Autonomous Regions of the planned migration calendar, justify the present clarification.
The process required for the development of 5G is proceeding as planned and in accordance with European regulations. The spectrum assignment process for 5G involves the assignment of the 700 MHz and 3.4-3.8 GHz bands (although the spectrum assignment processes must comply with the principle of technological neutrality). It is evident that the latter band, among others, was initially identified by the EU Radio Spectrum Policy Group as a pioneer band for 5G and subsequently recognised in the European Union declaration on the roadmap for the introduction of 5G, signed on 04 December 2017 by the Ministers of Telecommunications, Transport and Energy.
On this topic, ANACOM held a public consultation in 2018 (ANACOM makes way for 5th Mobile Generationhttps://www.anacom.pt/render.jsp?contentId=1431845). The report states Altice’s position regarding spectrum availability in the 700 MHz band, which argued that the assignment of this spectrum should only take place after 2020 and that the Portuguese State should use the 2-year delay provided for under Decision (EU) 2017/899 for the release of the 700 MHz band, postponing the entry of 5G into this band to 2022.
This claim was not accepted by ANACOM, which, by decision of 27 June 2018, decided to enforce the target defined in European terms, having enshrined in the National Roadmap for the 700 MHz band the objective of ensuring the process of assigning this spectrum by 30 June 2020, as approved by the Government, by order of the Secretary of State for Infrastructure.
Following technical meetings with Altice, on 21 August, ANACOM approved the draft decision on changes to the digital terrestrial television (DTT) network, in the context of the release of the 700 MHz band, which was put out to public consultation until 19 September (ANACOM approves DTT network changes for the release of the 700 MHz bandhttps://www.anacom.pt/render.jsp?contentId=1480749). The draft DTT decision comprises the definition of the technical changes that MEO will have to make to the DTT network, the methodology to be used and respective phasing. In the 4th quarter of this year, more specifically in the second half of November, a pilot test is planned to assess the methodology and the planned user support actions, in advance and in a limited environment.
As a result of the technical meetings held, and with regard to the planning of the DTT migration process contained in the roadmap, Altice stated its preference to reverse the order of the works to be carried out on the Mainland, particularly due to weather related issues, which ANACOM accepted. Thus, the Altice technical team is expected to start the migration process from the south of the country, successively covering the various neighbouring regions and ending in the north. Given that this migration will also take place in neighbouring Spain and Morocco, and given the need for international coordination of the band, it was decided to start the migration across the Mainland and end it in the Autonomous Regions.
With regard to the geographical planning of the migration process, the above change (starting from south to north rather than north to south) was the only proposal made by Altice, and it will be up to that company to ensure the necessary network changes as a DTT signal transmission service provider. In other words, Altice has never advocated, either in the technical meetings held with ANACOM or in any communications in this regard, any change in the geographic planning of the migration to be carried out in the Autonomous Regions of the Azores and Madeira, which, from the outset, for the reasons stated above, is expected to take place in the final phase of the DTT migration process.
However, this will not cause any harm to those Regions. The transition to 5G will be possible nationwide from the same date. According to Decision (EU) 2017/899 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 May concerning the use of the 470-790 MHz frequency band within the Union, the band can only be used for terrestrial systems capable of providing broadband wireless electronic communications services, including 5G, with effect from July 2020.
Additionally, regions that migrate at a later stage under the planning can only be at an advantage, as they can effectively benefit from the experience gained from migration in other regions, thus mitigating any difficulties in the process for the population concerned.
Finally, it is clarified that ANACOM has been giving permission for 5G technical trials to test the technology and some applications to mobile operators requesting them, and that can identify the sites where they intend to perform those trials, whether on the Mainland or in the Autonomous Regions.