The Netherlands’ leading cable operator by subscribers Zesko Holding (trading as Ziggo) has launched a fourth-generation mobile network based on Long Term Evolution (LTE) technology for business users in the country, using its spectrum in the 2600MHz band. At launch the service is being offered to customers with an ‘Internet Plus’ cable broadband subscription in the cities of Breda, Zwolle and Oss – branded as 4G LTE Mobile Broadband. However, the cableco is not planning to extend its LTE offer to the consumer segment, preferring instead to focus on the more lucrative business sector where it is claiming 4G LTE Mobile Broadband transmission speeds of up to 100Mbps/40Mbps (downlink/uplink). By launching a commercial 4G service Ziggo has stolen a march on the nation’s incumbent cellcos – KPN Mobile The Netherlands, Vodafone and T-Mobile – which are currently still deploying their LTE networks. As such, the commercially availability of 4G for the average man in the street is not looking likely until 2013/14.
TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database writes that the Dutch market regulator the Independent Post and Telecommunications Authority of the Netherlands (OPTA) and the government successfully completed the auction of 2600MHz frequency licences for WiMAX and/or LTE services in April 2010. The spectrum was broken up into blocks of 2×5MHz (paired) and 1×5MHz (unpaired), and a minimum of 38 licences were offered, sub-divided into at least 25 blocks of spectrum comprising 13 paired and twelve unpaired. Five firms were each awarded licences, namely: Ziggo 4, a company led by the chief financial officers of domestic cablecos Zesko Holding (Ziggo) and Liberty Global Inc’s UPC Nederland division; Tele2-Versatel, KPN Telecom, Vodafone Netherlands and T-Mobile. The five firms paid a total of EUR2.6 million (USD3.5 million) for the licences, which are valid until 2030 and will allow operators to use the 2600MHz band to provide next generation services such as TV broadcasts, web conferencing and online gaming.