New Spectrum in Germany’s 2015 Spectrum Auction

2015 is going to be another interesting year in wireless in Germany as another spectrum auction will perhaps again significantly influence the wireless landscape in the center of Europe.

There's lots of different angles to look at this spectrum auction, including competitive aspects, how much of the spectrum that companies already use today they want to re-acquire, whether it will be a real auction or just an amicable get together now that only three network operators are left, what will be done with the auction result, i.e. reinvested in telecoms, and if so how, or whether the money is funneled into other channels like in the past, etc. etc.

But no, I don't want to look at any of these aspects. Instead, let's have a look at the 2015 spectrum auction from a technology point of view: In addition to re-auctioning spectrum assignments in currently used bands such as the 900 and 1800 MHz bands that expire in 2016, two additional bands will be part of the action as reported by Teltarif and Heise:

Digital Dividend 2 in 700 MHz

The first new band is comprised of 2×30 MHz blocks (one for the uplink and one for the downlink) in the 700 MHz region currently used for TV broadcasting. This part of the spectrum has to be freed up first as part of the "Digital Dividend II" program which foresees terrestrial TV broadcasting to move from DVB-T to the more efficient DVB-T2 standard. The two 30 MHz blocks are between 703 and 733 MHz and from 758 MHz to 788 MHz. That's a subset of the already standardized LTE band 28, which, according to Wikipedia, has been a result of the Asia Pacific Band Plan (APT). In other words it has the same size as the Digital Dividend band (LTE band 20) already used today in the 800 MHz band.

A First in 1400 MHz

The second new band is foreseen for downlink only use between 1452 to 1492 MHz, i.e. 40 MHz. That's a subset of LTE band 32 (1452 to 1496 MHz). As it is uni-directional, it must be used as part of an LTE Carrier Aggregation setup together with another bi-directional band.

And that's it as far as new spectrum is concerned. Making a chunk of uni-directional 40 MHz spectrum available shows how little spectrum there's still available in the area below 3 GHz. Anything above is unlikely to be of much use in a macro cell network setup (i.e. a cell site covering a radius of several hundred meters to a few kilometers).

But every MHz counts and it's going to be interesting to see how things develop in the months to come.