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Time is running out, Albania will not have 5G even in 2023
Written by SOT.COM.AL 20 Shtator 2023
Albania is not expected to pass the technology of 5G mobile services this year either.
Although we are entering the last quarter of the year, the Electronic and Postal Communications Authority (AKEP) has not yet started a procedure to provide frequencies for this technology.
The necessary legal deadlines already make it difficult even to grant individual authorizations for the frequencies that will be used for 5G technology within this year, without further calculating the time needed to provide the service based on this technology.
According to the Action Plan for the adoption of 5G technology in Albania, which was prepared at the end of 2021 in collaboration with the consulting company Jones Group International, it was recommended that the tender procedure for granting authorizations for the use of frequencies in the main band of 5G technology, that 700 MHz (694-790 MHz) was announced in the middle of last year. But, although more than a year has passed, there is still no sign that this technology will debut in Albania soon.
The constant postponements of the transition to 5G are related firstly to technical and bureaucratic issues, but also perhaps to a great lack of appetite from the market to make a rapid technological leap.
The release of the 700 MHz frequency band from audiovisual broadcasting to be transferred to electronic communications operators has not yet been completed, although almost a year has passed since the deadline set for this purpose.
In 2021, the Council of Ministers approved the New National Frequency Plan, which finally sanctions the expansion of the spectrum to be used for broadband internet by mobile networks. The 700 MHz band should finally come under the administration of AKEP starting from June 30, 2022. However, the release of this process is proving to be a difficult process, beyond the set deadlines and forecasts.
The 700MHz band is currently still in use by audiovisual broadcasting operators.
In its annual report to the 2022 Assembly, the Audiovisual Media Authority (AMA) acknowledged that no significant progress had been made in this process last year, underlining that the release of the 700 MHz band is a complex process, which involves several decision-making in the legal, financial, technical framework which places responsibility not only on the AMA but on a number of actors (such as the Ministry of Infrastructure and Energy, the Ministry of Finance and Economy, the Ministry of Justice, the Competition Authority, AKEP, the national audiovisual operators public and private, etc.), who all together must have the good will to promote and accelerate the achievement of the objective. The expansion of mobile communications in the 700MHz band is expected to be the most important link towards the adoption of 5G technology,
However, technically the 700 MHz band is not the only band that can be used for 5G technology.
In most countries where the first commercial 5G networks have been built, their provision has started precisely through the 3.5 GHz band (3.3-3.8 GHz). Middle spectrum bands offer a good balance between network coverage potentials and transmission capacity. At the end of 2019, one of the mobile operators conducted the first test of 5G technology in Albania, precisely in this generation.
However, at the moment even the mobile operators themselves have shown no rush to make a quick leap to 5G technology, considering the significant investments that will be needed.
In the public consultation about the document on new broadband Internet technologies in Albania, last year, the operators are that they have invested significantly in 4G/4G+ technology in all relevant spectrum groups and they believe that there is still a able to cover local mobile broadband requirements and individual use cases for at least the next 2-3 years.
Operators have predicted the period 2022-2023 for technical trials and marketing studies, while significant investments in 5G technology are expected mainly in the period 2024-2025. Operators find the transition to the next 5G technology more difficult compared to previous leaps and this pessimism is related to economic, technological, but also bureaucratic and administrative factors. 5G, being investment intensive and changing current technology, will likely need more time to deploy than the 4G network.
The 5G generation is the new technological frontier of mobile communications, which is expected to bring much higher internet speeds than the existing ones. /Monitor