Put down the pancakes and sort out our spectrum – KPN

Pile of hot homemade yeast pancakes on a wooden background. Family breakfast. Close-up. Selective focus

KPN has thrown a bit of a temper tantrum with the Dutch government, claiming its policy will leave insufficient spectrum for next generation mobile communication.

The passive aggressive note comes in response to the memorandum on future Mobile Communications from Mr Kamp, the Dutch Minister of Economic Affairs, which was intended to demonstrate how the country can continue its leadership position in the digital economy. It wasn’t that long ago that the Netherlands was praised by the European Commission, however KPN seemingly believes the government is being quite short-sighted.

“At present, the Netherlands has a leading place in the EU’s transition towards a digital economy and society,” the team said in a statement. “The Netherlands ranks first in Europe in terms of connectivity (fixed and mobile broadband) in the EU’s 2017 Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI). Moreover, the mobile networks in the Netherlands rank amongst the best in the world, according to OpenSignal.

“But, when it comes to making spectrum available for next generation mobile communication, Dutch policy lags far behind. Elsewhere in Europe and also in Asia and the US, additional momentum is being created by governments making additional spectrum available, whereas Dutch policy makes different choices and decisions are deferred.”

The main issue here seems to be surrounding availability of the 3.5 GHz band, critical for the implementation of 5G and ultra-data speeds sought by greedy and increasingly impatient customers. KPN is concerned the availability of this band is currently very limited, and it doesn’t look like this is going to change in the foreseeable future. The team claim future plans for the spectrum do not align with the wider ambitions from the European Commission, leaving the Dutch in a dangerous position moving forward.

“KPN believes that Dutch spectrum policy will only be successful if it is in line with international spectrum harmonization agreements and consistent with European Union spectrum policy,” the team said.

“The Dutch legislation should be aimed at maximizing the economies of scale from global technological standardization and from spectrum harmonization. KPN therefore recommends that the 3.5 GHz band should be made available for mobile communication as soon as possible.”

While the Dutch shouldn’t be heading for the panic room just yet, there does seem to be some credibility to the KPN concerns. With such breakthroughs such as IoT set to give the telcos a helping hand in a challenging environment, effective spectrum availability is key.

The Dutch government does still have time to address the raised concerns, but considering the speed of change which we have become accustomed to in the public sector, it better get started pretty soon and save the smoke-and-a-pancake for later.


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