In 2021, according to the most optimistic scenarios, Cyprus will enter the constellation of 5G networks, with the frequencies auction set to begin on Thursday.
The fifth generation mobile network, which continues to divide the public across the globe, is set to change the world of telecommunications and bring revolutionary innovations in almost the entire breadth of social, professional and economic activity.
The prospect of inconceivable speeds of data transfer, when compared with current standards, is expected to have practical applications in a range of services, from healthcare to electronic governance to everyday life on the street.
The auction for 5G frequencies in Cyprus is set to be launched on Thursday, with telecommunications providers to compete for licences, with bids to centre around each company’s customer base.
The most decisive moment for the introduction of 5G networks in Cyprus will however not arrive until the end of 2021 or beginning of 2022, when licensed companies will be ready to launch the new technology.
The introduction of 5G was however marked by strong reactions from certain sections of the population, mainly due to doubts over the health effects of the frequency spectrum.
The matter also developed political dimensions through US reactions to the Chinese 5G infrastructure and companies, with the repercussions rippling to EU countries.
The frequencies auction
The process of the government’s auctioning off of the four 5G licenses will start on Thursday morning and is expected to be completed by the end of the day.
Given that there are four available licenses and four interested telecommunications providers, the auction is not expected to be a wildly competitive affair, though competitiveness is expected as the frequencies are not identical since they differ in terms of the range of their frequencies.
The companies are expected to claim licenses based on their customer base. For example, Cyta is expected to claim a license with a wider frequency range in order to be able to meet the demands of its customers.
The official registration of the licenses will formally take place in January, when the companies will begin infrastructure development.
For reasons relating to competition, companies have been reluctant to reveal the date that they expect to launch 5G in Cyprus, though it is widely accepted that commercial packages will be available from as early as late 2021.
Based on the official data of the auction for the granting of rights of use of the radio frequency spectrum (700 MHz, 3.6 GHz) for the Establishment and Operation of Electronic Communication Networks for the Provision of Electronic Communications Services, the participating companies are Cyta, Epic, Cablenet, and Primetel.
The exact price for the granting of the four 5G licenses will be known after the completion of the auction. However, as stated in the terms of the auction, more than 20 million euros are expected to flow into the state coffers.
The friendly persuasions of the Americans
The development of fifth-generation network infrastructure has become one of the major foreign policy issues for the United States over the past five years.
Cyprus did not escape the friendly advice of the US to avoid infrastructure of the Chinese Huawei Technologies, with the US embassy here from time to time making relevant appeals. However, Cyprus moved within the framework set by the EU, as several Member States and telecommunications organizations have proceeded with the supply of their equipment by Huawei Technologies.
Cyta, a state-controlled company, has chosen an intermediate solution by setting up the infrastructure of the 5th generation network with technological equipment from Huawei Technologies and the Swedish Ericson, a move that technocrats claim takes into account any security concern expressed.
Specifically, the equipment for the core of the network, the smart and sensitive part, will be Ericson, while the Radio aspect, such as the antennas, are supplied by Huawei Technologies.