The Lower House of Parliament in the Netherlands has reacted very critically to reports that the rollout of 5G in the Netherlands is being hampered by the fact that the 3.5 GHz band is not available. Dutch CDA, D66, PvdA and VVD parties have asked questions in Parliament about that band for 5G and about whether the Amsterdam ArenaA will be provided with 5G coverage in time for the European Football Championship in 2020. The Lower House will meet Secretary of State Mona Keijzer on 15 February to talk about telecom. The issue is now high on the agenda.
Het Parool writes about barriers to 5G barriers
D66 members Jan Paternotte and Salima Belhaj and Anne Weverling of VVD quoted two articles in daily Het Parool. In the first piece, KPN directors Eelco Blok and Joost Farwerck say that it will be impossible for the ArenA to have 5G in the 3.5 GHz band by 2020, because the government does not want to release that frequency. The band will be available in 2026 at the earliest, which KPN says will be too late for the Netherlands.
In the other article, Lotte de Bruijn from Netherlands ICT gave a reaction to the fact that Dutch intelligence services AIVD and MIVD listen to satellite communication in Burum via the 3.5 GHz band. Without this band, the Netherlands will not get 5G, Nokia Networks stated. De Bruijn is hopeful that there will be a solution, but whether it will be on time, she cannot say.
Intelligence services impede rollout
William Moorlag, a member of PvdA, cited a report stating that no 5G is possible above the Zandvoort-Coevorden line, due to the intelligence services in Burum. Moorlag has asked the Ministries of Economic Affairs and of Defense to indicate how long this has been known and to indicate whether there are possible alternatives.
CDA members Joba van den Berg and Harry van der Molen gave information about what is possible in order to prevent the Netherlands from missing the 5G boat. They have asked the Ministry of Economic Affairs to indicate what is being done in the Netherlands to facilitate 5G and whether the 700 MHz band that is available is really an alternative. KPN and Netherlands ICT do not think so. They too want to know if Amsterdam will be a 5G city at the European Championships.
Parliament will meet with Keijzer on 15 February to consult on telecom. The 5G issue is now in the foreground. Earlier government cabinets and MPs gave little or no attention to the issue, although the situation in Burum has been the same for years. In the Frisian countryside there is a satellite ground station know as ‘Het grote Oor’. There are civilian applications, including Inmarsat, but it is known that there are also military activities. The AIVD and MIVD use Burum for SIGINT (Signal Intelligence) for their own use and for the use of NATO partners.
It is therefore in the government’s interest for the function of these receivers to remain undisturbed. In 2010, the government banned a WiMAX network in Amsterdam’s Aerea, precisely because it was in the 3.5 GHz band. The government subsequently granted permission on a very limited scale for local broadband networks in part of the country. Burum has always cast a shadow over the development of 4G. It is only since last year that the 3.5 GHz band has come fully into the picture for 5G.
Telefonica building 5G network in Munich
How networks in cities hosting the European Football Championships will look like can already be seen in Munich. Telefonica Germany recently announced with Nokia that it was developing a 5G network in three frequency bands: 700, 3.5 GHz and 28 GHz. The 700-band will be used throughout the city and the Olympic Park for ‘mission critical’ communication, such as for the police. The 3.5 GHz band will be used for gigabit broadband in major parts of the city. The high 28 GHz frequencies have a short range and will be used locally, in the stadium and the fan zones.
Telefonica is headquartered in Munich and therefore stands out, but T-Mobile and Vodafone have similar plans. Other European cities such as London and Rome are following the same roadmap.