READI ASPF 5 Re-farming 2G bands (800/900/1800MHz)


Vientiane, Lao PDR (18/03/2015) - READI ASPF-5 Re-farming 2G bands (800/900/1800 MHz)


Vientiane (Laos), 18 March 2015 - The ASEAN in cooperation with the European Union (EU) held today a further meeting of the ASEAN Spectrum Policy Forum in Vientiane under the heading “Re-farming 2G bands (800/900/1800MHz” (ASPF-5). Facilitated by the Regional EU-ASEAN Dialogue Instrument (READI) ASPF-5 focused on ways of re-farming 2G bands (800/900/1800MHz).

Attended by over 70 delegates from the ASEAN and the EU regions, the workshop welcomed the attendance of special guests such as H.E Thansamay Kommasith (Vice Minister, MPT Laos), Ruprecht Niepold (Expert in Radio Spectrum Policy &Co-chair of the ASPF, Europe), Le Van Tuan (Deputy Director General of ARFM and ATRC/SSM chair, Viet Nam), and key experts in the field: Amit Nagpal (Partner, Aetha Consulting, United Kingdom), Helen Hearn (Head of Authorisation, Spectrum Policy Group, Ofcom, United Kingdom) and Erlend Fanebust (SVP, Head of Spectrum and Analytical Decision Support, Telenor ASA, Norway).

“Radio frequency spectrum is becoming an increasingly scarce resource for increased access to communications or ICTs. Telecommunication/ICT is not only facing increased requirements for bandwidth, but also facing ever-increasing pressure from other users of the spectrum, who are exercising their rapidly growing requirements for larger spectrum bandwidths. Hence the roles of the government, regulators are the key enablers for an effective management of the radio spectrum” mentioned H.E Thansamay Kommasith (Vice Minister of MPT Laos) in his opening address.

ASPF-5 main workshop objective was to consider the issues associated with making spectrum currently used to provide 2G mobile services (e.g. the 800MHz, 900MHz and 1.8GHz bands) available for new technologies including 3G and 4G. This so-called re-farming of spectrum can generate significant economic benefits - particularly for consumers in terms of  advanced mobile data services - but also requires consideration of a number of technical (e.g. band planning, in-band and out of band interference, cross-border coordination) and economic challenges (e.g. potential impact on competition in the mobile market). The ASPF-5 workshop thus discussed these challenges and sought to identify areas of best practice for national governments and regulators to consider as well as identifying areas where a common ASEAN approach could be beneficial. The following topics have been addressed by ASPF-5:

  • Inventory of re-farming developments to-date in the EU and ASEAN regions
  • 2G band re-farming strategies and policy considerations
  • Technical interference issues, possible solutions and practical test results
  • Impact of re-farming on competition in the mobile market
  • Country case studies on re-farming experiences (comparing regulators and industry views)

The issues were introduced by means of an Issue Paper distributed in advance of the workshop and then illustrated by practical experiences through presentations in the workshop from ASEAN and EU speakers.

“2G re-farming is key for making available sufficient spectrum for broad-band wireless services fuelled by an increasing demand due to the rapid spread of smart phones. 2G re-farming is not only a technical issue in relation to these bands, but must be holistically approached taking into account all bands available for wireless broadband, monitoring technology and equipment trends and addressing complex regulatory and competition issues. ASPF-5 contributes to clarifying how the wireless broadband ecosystem evolves and what actions are required” says Ruprecht Niepold, Expert in Radio Spectrum Policy and Co-chair of the ASPF.

ASPF-5 adopted the following recommendations:

  • ASPF recommends that for 2G band re-farming member states adopt a holistic band approach based on the principle of technology and service neutrality (TN/SN), taking account of the evolution of the ecosystem (spectrum band usage, availability of network equipment and terminals). This approach provides spectrum users with maximum flexibility to use different technologies in different bands (i.e. all bands available for wireless broadband including the re-farmed 2G bands) in accordance with the evolution of the ecosystem of devices and networks.
  • TN is possible in the 2G bands, as the EU investigations and experiences have shown, by setting Block Edge Mask specifications –for 2G bands as well as other bands for wireless broadband - to allow several new wireless technologies to coexist within a same band. ASPF recommends that the ASEAN region considers, in the context of the AWG work on re-farming, adopting and referring, where appropriate, the specifications developed in Europe, as required and as appropriate, as a basis for re-farming the 2G bands in ASEAN member states in order to liberalise the usage and maximise economies of scale.
  • ASPF recommends that spectrum regulators, when liberalising the use of 2G bands, take into account interference issues with respect to neighbouring bands which could occur, including when the neighbouring band(s) is (are) used for wireless broadband services. This issue is particularly relevant when considering the APT900 and 850MHz bands in the ASEAN region.
  • ASPF recommends that national spectrum regulators consider, when re-farming the 2G bands, the 2G spectrum assets to enable, where appropriate, large contiguous spectrum blocks. This reorganisation should be undertaken through close coordination with spectrum usage holders.
  • Where not yet available, ASPF recommends establishing coordination mechanisms to be used when dealing with border situations between countries implementing the liberalisation of 2G band at different points in time, hence bearing the risk of interference.
  • Because of increasingly wide wireless service markets’ size and geographical footprint, ASPF recommends a coordinated regional effort for the 2G re-farming. This can take the form of issuing guidelines to national spectrum authorities on objectives and timelines for 2G re-farming, including how to re-organise the 700MHz, 800MHz and 900MHz bands, which would ensure regulatory predictability and help the ASEAN region to benefit from equipment economies of scale as it would provide certainty to both users of spectrum and equipment manufacturers. ASPF recommends that ASEAN member states seek to identify a common date (e.g. 2018, to be agreed amongst ASEAN Member States) by which existing 2G spectrum bands will be made available on a technology and service neutral basis under agreed common technical specifications. ‚Äč
  • ASPF recommends that ASEAN member states give due consideration to the impact on competition in the mobile/wireless broadband market as part of the process of making decisions to re-farm 2G spectrum and the timing of it. Liberalising the usage of the 2G bands is an opportunity to balancing the existing spectrum rights vis a vis to have competitive and efficient markets. Remedies (for example, re-assignment of spectrum, band reconfiguration to create contiguous blocks) should/may be considered where a distortive impact on competition needs to be addressed. The exact approach will need to take account of individual national circumstances.
  • The implementation of re-farming the 2G bands is dependent on each country’s underlying legal/regulatory framework governing spectrum and the telecoms markets. The experience shows that re-farming requires operational regulatory tools with an agreed legal basis. ASPF encourages member states to implement a regulatory and legal environment suitable to deliver within a reasonable time frame on re-farming objectives.

Finally ASPF-5 participants requested the ASEAN Secretariat and the EU to facilitate the continuation of the ASPF series of workshops in order to allow the EU and ASEAN member states to continue the dialogue on relevant spectrum management issues with a view to reaching consensus on the way forward including harmonisation measures and policy initiatives.

“ASPF, since its launch in 2012, has become an effective forum for ASEAN spectrum experts to discuss, share knowledge and exchange experiences in spectrum issues internally, as well as with European and industry experts. More importantly, ASFP has become an important platform for ASEAN members to coordinate their views on spectrum management issues. In addition, most of the ASPF meeting recommendations were positively adopted by SSM and some of them served as ground for SSM’s proposal to be incorporated in ASEAN’s TELMIN Ministerial Statement on spectrum issue” said Le Van Tuan, Deputy Director General of ARFM and ATRC/SSM chair, Viet Nam. 


A selection of pictures from the ASEAN-EU Workshop on Re-farming 2G bands (800/900/1800 MHz) (ASPF-5) can be found here.


READI ASPF-5 Proceedings:


Attendee List

Issues Paper


Press Release


Session #1 - Issues associated with re-farming of 2G bands and inventory of developments to-date

Amit Nagpal - Issues and challenges associated with re-farming 2G bands

Joe Guan - Re-farming 2G bands (800/900/1800 MHz) - Inventory of use of bands in Europe and trends

Alex Orange - Re-farming of 2G bands (800/900/1800 MHz) - Situation in the ASEAN region 

Nguyen Cong Huan - GSM Updates           

Session #2 - General 2G band re-­farming strategies and policies    

Nguyen Thu Ha - Review on report of APG and SD 

Ruprecht Niepold - European re-farming strategies and policy considerations 

Session #3 - Solution on 2G bands re-­farming / Case studies in EU    

Helen Hearn - Case study on administration regulations/policies    

Erlend  Fanebust - Case study on concrete re-farming experiences: Interferences solutions and practical test results & Deployment experience           

Session #4 - Solution on 2G bands re-farming/Case studies in APAC    

Puttachad Manmontri -­ Thailand   

Do Vu Anh - Vietnam    

Nyoman Adhiarna - Indonesia   

Hakan Ohlsen - Issues in deploying 2G band re-­farming    

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