The Norwegian government tempts telecommunications companies with barter: Offers 560 million in discount to better district coverage. One in ten Norwegian households does not have fast broadband. In the upcoming 5G auction, the government is putting a juicy discount coupon on the table for those who can get the number down.
Even though Telia and Telenor launched 5G last year, and Ice is testing it out, we are still on the starting line in the use of the next generation mobile network. The development is progressing fast. At the same time as the mobile companies are turning up more and more 5G base stations, more frequencies will be auctioned off in September - the permits the companies need to send mobile signals through the air.
The National Communications Authority (Nkom) is conducting the somewhat delayed auction. The first 5G auction was held in Norway in 2019. At that time, Telenor, Ice and Telia payed a total of NOK 735 million.
Companies are offered a big carrot: "We enter into a barter trade where we offer 560 million in reduced price on frequencies in exchange for the providers expanding coverage in the districts for a minimum of this amount, says Minister of District and Digitization Linda Hofstad Helleland.
The discount comes on top of the 264.1 million that has already been allocated for broadband construction in the districts in this year's state budget and raises the total to over 800 million.
"We have invested a lot in the digital foundation since 2013. This helped us reach the national goal from 2016 that 90 percent should have access to at least 100 megabits of broadband. We continue that commitment", says Hofstad Helleland. The money that is now put on the table will help increase this proportion of households closer to 100 percent. Exactly how many will be covered by the discount scheme, the Minister does not have figures for now.
Nkom is responsible for following up frequency auctions and announced the terms Friday 5th February.