North Macedonia’s regulator, the Agency for Electronic Communications (AEK), is planning to award 5G spectrum in the second half of this year and has opened a public consultation on the initiative.
The second half of 2020 will see an initial award of 5G-suitable spectrum in the 700MHz and 3.6GHz bands. Other bands are scheduled to be allocated in case of interest.
Market participants will now have to offer comment on the terms and conditions of the spectrum auction, the demand for spectrum and the optimal way of allocating the airwaves. They will also need to suggest viable deadlines.
Having announced the consultation on the award of 5G authorisations, the AEK gave interested parties until 6 March to submit their comments.
The AEK will award 2×10MHz of spectrum in the 700MHz band per operator, while it plans to distribute 300MHz in the 3.6GHz band (100MHz per operator) nationally and 68.5MHz regionally. Interestingly, the AEK plans to reserve 2×10MHz in the 700MHz band and 100MHz in the 3.6GHz bands for a new network operator, with a lower one-time fee and coverage obligations.
The 700MHz band should be freed up later this year when broadcasting migrates to a new standard.
There will, inevitably, be conditions. At least one North Macedonian city needs to enjoy 5G coverage by the end of 2023, and all cities by 2027. The whole population (estimated in 2019 at just over two million) must have 5G access, with a minimum downlink of 100Mbps, by 2029.
This award timetable seems to be consistent with plans announced in 2019. Many readers will remember that last June the minister of information society and administration, Damjan Mancevski declared that a 5G network would be available to all cities of North Macedonia by the end of 2027.