Greece reserves prime spectrum, quarter of auction revenues for industrial 5G research
Greece has reserved spectrum in low, mid, and high frequency bands for 5G innovation projects, geared towards digital change. It will offer 25 percent of the income (upwards of €90 million) that it raises from the forthcoming national 5G auction back into these research projects, as it seeks to turn the whole country into an “innovation laboratory” to drive industrial and economic rebirth.
The Hellenic Telecoms and Post Commission (EETT) has put aside spectrum in three groupings for universities and startups to research and develop 5G-based services and applications. It has reserved spectrum at 733-736 MHz and 788-791 MHz, 3400-3410 MHz, as well as 200 MHz from the higher 26 GHz band. At the same time, it is gearing up to auction 5G spectrum to mobile operators in the 700MHz, 2GHz, 3.4GHz-3.8GHz and 26GHz bands.
The new ‘research’ spectrum will be made available free of charge for 12 months, for experimentation purposes, according to a report on Greek-language news site In.gr. EETT has been contacted by Enterprise IoT Insights for a response. It is unclear whether the regulator will move, also, to release ‘vertical’ spectrum for industry in the mid-range band, as Germany and the UK have done in Europe, nor if or how enterprises may engage in the new research bands.
The public 5G auction sets a starting price of €367.3 million for all frequencies, at 700MHz, 2GHz, 3.4GHz-3.8GHz and 26GHz. Applications are to be submitted from October 23; the auction closes on December 21. Vodafone, Cosmote, and Wind will all be in the running, with a view to launch commercial 5G services in the first quarter of 2021. A quarter of the proceeds will be available for 5G projects in the new ‘research’ bands.
The national government in Greece has published a new law, on Digital Governance and Electronic Communications, to make the country an “innovation laboratory” from Spring next year, by enabling 5G-based technical experimentation in chunks of 700MHz, 3.4GHz-3.8GHz, and 26 GHz spectrum. By definition, the new government-funded research bands will be optimised for private 5G networks.
The Ministry of Digital Government has put focus variously on smart cities, industrial IoT (‘Industry 4.0’), intelligent transportation, and smart agriculture as new engines for the country’s digital transformation, economic rebirth, and energy transition. Its new private 5G initiative is geared towards research into networking functions, notably multi-access edge computing (MEC) and network slicing, as well as applications like driverless cars, remote-controlled drones, and augmented and virtual reality (AR and VR).
The new proposals set out that the Greek government will offer 10-year leases on chunks of the 3400-3410 MHz band for 5G research and experimentation, with the first year available free-of-charge. Besides, it appears 200 MHz from the 26 GHz band will be reserved, anyway, and likely offered for the same purpose. Unspecified parts of the 733-736 MHz and 788-791 MHz frequency bands are also under consideration, it seems.
The government has said 25 percent of revenues raised from new spectrum tender, including future auctions, will go towards funding projects in these private bands. It has committed over €90 million at the outset (based on the auction starting price of €367.3 million). Private financing will top-up the 5G research funds, also, and see operators and enterprises engage more widely in the research.
Investments will be offered via the new Phaistos (Faistos) Fund, which will be administered by a new investment vehicle, called Holdings 5G SA, to effectively dole out for 5G projects in these bands. The Phaistos Fund will be controlled by the Hellenic Company of Assets and Participations, known as the hyperfund. Money will be available to companies located in Greece or the EU, or in companies operating in Greece. It will be awarded for digital innovation in the transport and logistics, manufacturing, defense, utilities, health, and tourism sectors.