July 19, 2019 / 12:59 PM / 5 months ago

Polish regulator calls for legal changes to enable 5G roll-out

WARSAW (Reuters) - Poland’s telecom regulator has urged the government to press ahead with regulatory changes related to permissible radiation levels that are key to rolling out next-generation 5G networks in the country in line with European Union requirements.

As an EU member Poland is obliged to have an operational 5G network in at least one city by the end of 2020.

But the country first has to raise the acceptable level for radiation emitted from the highly efficient base stations that must be built for 5G.

“From the point of view of the Polish state, radiation standards for base stations are a major problem in the construction of 5G networks,” Marcin Cichy, the head of the regulator, told Reuters.

He added that “Poland will have to forget about 5G” if it does not allow for higher radiation levels from a single station, or build stations very close together to meet data transmission demand.

Equipment suppliers, like Ericsson, have previously said that Poland needs to recalibrate power density limits (PEM), which are among the most limited in Europe, to allow base stations to generate enough electromagnetic field to make the 5G network function.

Cichy said that sticking to the current PEM limits would significantly reduce telecom operators’ willingness to bid for spectrum as it would increase the costs of rolling out the networks.

In turn that would limit how much the state could raise from selling spectrum, he added.

“If we want to meet the EU goal of launching 5G in Poland by the end of 2020, there are a few months left to convince investment funds and telecoms’ shareholders that this problem will be solved,” he added.

PRICE INCREASES

Polish telecoms companies have recently raised prices, or announced plans to do so, in order to secure funds for 5G frequency tenders and network investments.

That, Cichy said, signalled the end of a price war between operators.

“I cannot say that hikes are accepted by us, we must represent the interests of consumers in the first place. At the moment, however, they are rational, he said.

He added that if they rose too much, regulatory intervention would be necessary.

Reporting by Anna Koper; Editing by Kirsten Donovan

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