Barring a court ruling, it looks like the 3.5 GHz frequency band will be available for 5G use in the Netherlands starting 1 February next year. At that date, the license of British satellite company Inmarsat operating reception dishes in the province of Friesland expires, opening up the spectrum for telecom firms to expand their 5G services. Until recently, Economic Affairs Minister Micky Adriaansens had been negotiating with Inmarsat about moving operations to Greece, but those talks have collapsed, Adriaansens writes in a letter to the House of Representatives (link in Dutch). As a result, she intends to simply let Inmarsat’s license expire.
Inmarsat provides emergency communication services, primarily for maritime applications. Following a lengthy struggle with the Dutch government, the firm agreed to move its satellite dishes to Greece. However, it wants a guarantee that it can stay there for at least ten years. The Greek government has issued a license until 2027 and has promised a 5-year extension, but Inmarsat demands a formal commitment.
According to Adriaansens, however, Greek law doesn’t permit licensing that far ahead. Hence her decision to cease negotiations. “In consultation with Inmarsat, I’ve gone to great lengths to find a good solution for emergency communications and I believe that the option now available to Inmarsat allows them to move to Greece without difficulty,” she writes. “The absence of an agreement can’t result in postponing 5G rollout in the Netherlands indefinitely.”
The government will auction off the 3.5 GHz band. It’s not yet clear when that will be organized.