MVNO Europe welcomes French regulator ARCEP’s proposed terms for the granting of 5G-related radio spectrum
Brussels, 10 September 2019 – MVNO Europe welcomes French telecommunications regulator ARCEP’s draft decision outlining the procedure terms for awarding 5G-related radio spectrum (the 3490 – 3800 MHz band) in Metropolitan France. The association representing MVNOs active on European markets calls on the regulator to confirm the wholesale network access obligations it intends to impose on future licensees.
This summer, ARCEP (Autorité de Régulation des Communications Électroniques et des Postes) published a proposal concerning the procedure and applicant obligations for the deployment of 5G networks in France. In this proposal, among other things, ARCEP requires that entities applying for an initial minimum amount of radio spectrum make formal commitments, including the provision of Full MVNO access. MVNO Europe is pleased to see that this approach is in line with the approach ARCEP adopted back in 2011, when it drafted the terms for the 800 MHz and 2,6 GHz spectrum assignment proceedings, as it consequently led to the development of a diversified MVNO sector in France, allowing for innovation, enhanced competition and fairer prices on the French market.
More specifically, MVNO Europe welcomes provisions of the draft that future radio spectrum licensees will have to commit to (1) enable MVNOs to offer differentiated services (i.e. services different from those that the Host MNO will provide itself), (2) refrain from imposing exclusivity terms on MVNOs without due justification (i.e. MVNOs should be able to conclude multiple wholesale access agreements with different operators), (3) provide wholesale access to (Full) MVNOs on reasonable economic terms (i.e. preventing margin-squeeze on MVNOs) and (4) enable MVNOs/MVNEs/MVNAs to serve markets with new (5G) RAN technologies simultaneously with host MNOs.
If confirmed, those obligations will enable French MVNOs to effectively serve French society and allow them to remain innovative and agile in the provision of tailored solutions for their customers (including consumers but also companies active in industrial, service, and public sectors). This is essential to guarantee the digital transformation of small and very small businesses across the French territory.
Jacques Bonifay, the Chairman of MVNO Europe, is convinced that “ARCEP’s draft conditions for the deployment for 5G will help France to secure a regulatory landscape allowing for competition, innovation and benefiting all end-users”. He also underlines “the absolute necessity for ARCEP to confirm the draft wholesale access requirements when it will submit its final text to the Government in the next few weeks”. Finally, he invites “the European Member States that have not yet determined their terms for the upcoming own national 5G auction procedures to inspire themselves from ARCEP’s text”.Read More
MVNO Europe welcomes the Czech Regulatory Authority (ČTÚ)’s draft terms and conditions for the upcoming 5G auction and suggests improvements
Brussels, 2 August 2019 – MVNO Europe welcomes the ČTÚ’s draft of 5G spectrum auction terms through which it is seeking to bolster competition in the Czech Republic by enabling a fourth mobile network operator and imposing (MVNO) wholesale access obligations in the 700 MHz licenses.
MVNO Europe urges the ČTÚ to maintain and extend wholesale access (MVNO) obligations in the spectrum licenses in the final text of the tender, as this will enable competition on a market where shares secured by independent MVNOs (i.e. MVNOs whose shareholding is not (in full or in part) controlled by the three main Mobile Network Operators) remain limited. More particularly, MVNO Europe welcomes Annexes 2A and 2B of the draft as these address elements such as equivalent network quality, scope and coverage for MVNOs and the recognition of the concepts of Full-MVNO and MVNE (Enabler) – which (among others) are crucial for effective wholesale (MVNO) access.
Room for improvement
While it generally applauds the draft terms circulated by the ČTÚ, MVNO Europe has identified several elements that raise concerns and that would necessitate some improvements in the final version of the tender document. Three of them are listed below:
- Rather than being framed in terms of enabling the provision of ‘high-speed Internet access’, the wholesale access obligation should be more generic (or at least refer to ‘mobile data’) in order to enable MVNO/MVNEs to use the wholesale access for other purposes (e.g. Internet of Things (IoT) and specialised services for industries (e.g. factories, connected vehicles), devices (laptops, tablets, AR glasses), education (e.g. campuses), and the public sector (e-health) .
- The requirement to publish a reference offer for Full MVNO/MVNE access is welcome, but its provisions, and contract negotiation provisions, seem to allow in practice a time lag (possibly of many months) between the spectrum holder launching its own services, and enabling an MVNO to effectively launch its own retail or wholesale services. Time lag/technology lag has been a factor holding back MVNOs in the Czech Republic and elsewhere in the past and has seriously damaged competition (and thereby end-users’ interests). The ČTÚ should make sure that time lags are avoided by enabling simultaneous launch of services by the Host network operator and MVNOs/MVNEs.
- The ČTÚ should extend wholesale access obligations to 3400-3600 MHz spectrum or at least include an opportunity for bidders to make a voluntary commitment to renew and extend wholesale access across all their spectrum holdings. A reward (e.g. in terms of lower spectrum fees) could be given to operators making such commitments.
Relationship with three-criteria test and Significant Market Power regulation
In parallel with the Czech spectrum tender terms, MVNO Europe encourages the ČTÚ to continue its efforts to ensure (by means of regulatory intervention where justified) a competitive Czech electronic communications market that serves end-users (both Business-to-Consumer and Business-to-Business – including public sector) interests. MVNO Europe generally agrees with the ČTÚ’s findings on the three-criteria test for the wholesale mobile access market, and agrees with the ČTÚ that the European Commission’s assessment of the ČTÚ’s findings is unsound. In particular, there is a need to recognise the objective reality, which is that alternative brands in the Czech Republic are mostly controlled by the Mobile Network Operators (in particular by O2) and that truly independent MVNOs have only achieved a very small market share to-date. Therefore, further regulatory intervention is needed to make the market genuinely competitive. If the ČTÚ is to ameliorate the current condition of the Czech electronic communications market (which is characterised by among the highest prices and the lowest mobile data allowances in the EU), it should consider efficient measures which – among other things – will enable Full MVNOs/MVNEs to become genuine competitors.Read More
Brussels, 2 April 2019 – MVNO Europe welcomes the addition of Welcome Italia. Active on both the fixed and mobile markets, Welcome Italia positions itself as one of the best Italian telecommunications service providers for business customers.
MVNO Europe is delighted to expand its membership with the addition of Welcome Italia – an operator focused on providing best-in-class services to business customers. Operating on the fixed market since 1999, Welcome Italia launched its mobile services in April 2018 under the name Vianova Mobile. With this move, Welcome Italia aims to integrate and maximize the potential of fixed-line and mobile networks, Wi-Fi, Private Branch Exchange and smartphones. As with many other MVNOs, Welcome Italia is designed to quickly and smoothly adapt to its clients’ ever-changing needs.
MVNO Europe looks forward to helping Welcome Italia further develop its MVNO activities. Together MVNO Europe and Welcome Italia will seek to progress towards fair and non-discriminatory network access conditions for MVNOs – regardless of the technology – in Italy and other EU countries. In parallel, with Welcome Italia among its members, MVNO Europe will keep fighting for the reduction of regulated wholesale roaming charges in the EU in order to enable MVNOs to increase competition on European markets and thereby benefit end-users.
Jacques Bonifay, chairman of MVNO Europe, warmly welcomed the new member “who will help the association to achieve a vibrantly competitive market, which remains the best tool to promote innovation, cross-border solutions and take-up of services by users.”.Read More
Brussels, 15 January 2019 – MVNO Europe keeps growing with the addition of sipgate Wireless. Together with its affiliate sipgate GmbH, sipgate Wireless offers integrated mobile and fixed solutions to businesses and consumers.
MVNO Europe is pleased to further expand by welcoming sipgate Wireless among its members. Based in Düsseldorf and active in Germany for more than nine years, sipgate Wireless operates as a full MVNO. Its very high-quality mobile solutions are marketed by its affiliate Sipgate GmbH to serve both businesses and consumers using the brands “sipgate team” and “simquadrat”. With better telephony as declared goal, sipgate Wireless distinguishes itself by offering transparent and personalized services to its customers.
With sipgate Wireless among its members, MVNO Europe will keep fighting to eliminate all the existing barriers that prevent MVNOs from competing and innovating on European markets. Above all, and especially in light of the emergence of 5G technologies, this implies securing fair and non-discriminatory network access conditions for MVNOs in all European countries. In parallel, in order to fulfil the needs of telecommunications customers, MVNO Europe and sipgate Wireless will work together on reducing EU wholesale roaming caps as well as on finding common grounds with some handset manufacturers on technical issues.
Jacques Bonifay, chairman of MVNO Europe, said that “with 5G auction procedures approaching in several European countries, if we are to secure a regulatory landscape allowing for competition, innovation and benefiting all end-users, it is of utmost importance to guarantee that MVNOs have fair network access”.Read More