• Secures 15‑year extensions to 900MHz and 1800MHz concessions.
  • Supreme Court rules NMHH acted “lawfully” in blocking Digi Communications from participating in 2020 multiband auction.

Vodafone Hungary stumps up €135m to extend licences

Vodafone Hungary stumps up €135m to extend licences

Source: Vodafone Hungary

Vodafone Hungary (VfH) forked out HUF 41.9bn (£99m/€114m) to extend licence durations in the 900MHz and 1800MHz frequency bands (see table). The licences were due to expire in April 2022, but now run to April 2037. Provided operators meet certain obligations — the details of which were not made clear — the 15‑year concessions may be extended by five years, to 2042.

Telenor Hungary was the biggest spender in an auction that raised HUF 150.2bn in total.

Monika Karas, President of Nemzeti Média- és Hírközlési Hatóság (National Media and Infocommunications Authority/NMHH), indicated that extra capacity enabled by 900MHz and 1800MHz airwaves was necessary to maintain mobile services in Hungary.

OperatorBandQuantityPrice

Cost of extending 900MHz and 1800MHz licences in Hungary

Sources: Operators, Deutsche Telekomwatch.

Magyar Telekom

900MHz

1800MHz

2×8MHz

2×20MHz

HUF 18.48bn

HUF 25.8bn

Total: HUF 44.28bn

Telenor Hungary

900MHz

1800MHz

2×13MHz

2×20MHz

HUF 32.62bn

HUF 24.2bn

Total: HUF 56.85bn

Vodafone Hungary

900MHz

1800MHz

2×9MHz

2×20MHz

HUF 22.7bn

HUF 26.4bn

Total: HUF 49.1bn

 

 

Vodafone’s licence concessions and expiry dates

 CurrentAcquiredAfter 2022
Sources: Vodafone Hungary, Vodafonewatch.

700MHz

2×10MHz (expires 2035)

 

2×10MHz (expires 2035)

800MHz

2×10MHz (expires 2029)

 

2×10MHz (expires 2029)

900MHz

2×10MHz (expires 2022)

2×1MHz (expires 2029)

2×9MHz (expires 2037)

 

2×1MHz (expires 2029)

2×9MHz (expires 2037)

1800MHz

2×15MHz (expires 2022)

2×20MHz (expires 2037)

2×20MHz (expires 2037)

2100MHz

2×15MHz (expires 2027)

2×5MHz (expires 2035)

 

2×15MHz (expires 2027)

2×5MHz (expires 2035)

2600MHz

2×20MHz + 25MHz (expires 2029)

 

2×20MHz + 25MHz (expires 2029)

3.6GHz

60MHz (expires 2034)

50MHz (expires 2035)

 

60MHz (expires 2034)

50MHz (expires 2035)

Road to 5G

VfH was the first Hungarian mobile network operator to launch 5G services in May 2019, using 3.6GHz frequencies acquired in 2016 (Vodafonewatch, #177). The OpCo subsequently shelled out HUF 38.65bn in a multiband auction of 700MHz, 2.1GHz, and 3.6GHz frequencies during March 2020 (Vodafonewatch, #185). The 700MHz airwaves, plus additional 3.6GHz spectrum, are set aside for 5G rollout. The 2.1GHz frequencies are allocated to boost capacity on its LTE‑A network.

Digi woes

In early‑February 2021, shortly after the 900MHz/1800MHz auction was wrapped up, NMHH appeared to put another issue to bed.

The authority announced that Hungary’s Supreme Court had ruled in its favour over the decision to block Digi Communications, the parent company of pay‑TV and broadband player Digi, from participating in the 2020 multiband auction. Digi subsequently took legal action against NMHH, but the Supreme Court ruled it had acted “lawfully”.

Through what seems a technicality, Digi’s Hungarian subsidiary was not allowed to take part directly in the multiband auction. NMHH took the view that any concessions it acquired would be handed over to its broadband and pay‑TV operation, thus affecting the “purity” of the auction process.

NMHH, somewhat triumphantly, said Digi Communications had no way to appeal the Supreme Court’s decision.