The Dutch National Inspectorate for Digital Infrastructure (Rijksinspectie Digitale Infrastructuur, RDI) will be accepting applications for local private 5G licences in December

The RDI is preparing to make local, private 5G spectrum licences in the 3.5GHz band available to enterprise customers before the end of the year.

Two 50MHz blocks in the 3.5GHz band (more specifically, 3,400–3,450MHz and 3,750–3,800MHz) are being set aside for enterprise use, with the RDI saying that companies can apply individually or in partnership to gain access to the spectrum.

The licences will be valid until the end of 2040.

“Companies can, jointly or separately, build their own 5G network, so that they can use virtual reality with their own frequencies and on their own premises, for example, or control smart, complex devices such as self-driving vehicles or robots in factories,” explained the regulator in a statement (translated from Dutch).

“Companies are assisted with their license applications on a first-come, first-served basis, but new applicants have the same rights to frequency use as their neighbours, who may already have a license. This also means that companies with a permit must take into account the obligation of mutual cooperation.”

Applications for the licences will open at the start of next month.

This allocation is somewhat controversial. The RDI is currently facing legal action from Schiphol Airport and the Port of Rotterdam over the proposed spectrum allocation plan, with both parties arguing that the first-come, first-served method of distributing local could prevent them from acquiring their required bandwidth.

The remaining 300MHz of spectrum in the 3.5GHz band not being allocated for private network deployments (namely, 3,450–3,750MHz) is expected to be auctioned off to the country’s mobile operators next year.

Here too, the RDI has come under fire for its proposed spectrum policy. First planned back in 2021, the government’s initial plans to auction the 3.5GHz spectrum were soon derailed by a legal challenge from satellite operator Inmarsat, which was already using 3.5GHz spectrum to provide emergency communications for the shipping and aviation via one of its Dutch ground stations.

It subsequently took the government and Inmarsat over a year to reach an agreement on how to handle the situation, ultimately agreeing last month that Inmarsat would move its impacted operations to an existing site in Greece.

The exact date for the 5G auction has yet to be confirmed, with RDI suggesting it will likely take place in Q1 next year.

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