21-01-2021

Issues highlighted at the meeting of the Minister of Transport and Communications and the representatives of the electronic communications market: 5G connection, creation of a state critical communication network, and Draft Law on Electronic Communications

On Wednesday, Marius Skuodis, the Minister of Transport and Communications, expressed the hope at a remote meeting with the representatives of the electronic communications market that the start of the auction of allocation of next generation mobile telecommunications network (5G) frequencies will not take long, the network will be deployed evenly throughout Lithuania and, in the nearest years, it will reach at least the major cities of the country. According to the Minister, it is also very important that all information of electronic communications infrastructure that is available in Lithuania be fully digitized and made publicly available.

The representatives of the Lithuanian Business Confederation, the Association Infobalt, the Investors' Forum and of mobile operators participated at the meeting with the Minister.

In Lithuania, radio frequencies necessary for the development of 5G communication were planned to be allocated to operators by auction at the end of 2020. But, because of various circumstances, the auction did not take place, and now the auction is planned to be announced as early as possible. The aim is to ensure that by 2023 uninterrupted 5G coverage was available in at least 5 major Lithuanian cities, and by 2025 - also in the territories of all cities and towns.

Mobile operators stressed out at the meeting that frequency resource is required to deploy a fast 5G connection. It is therefore important to ensure as fast as possible allocation of these resources for the market because operators are ready to invest in development of networks and start their deployment as soon as possible.

There is the aim to set out certain obligations in the terms of the radio frequency auction which would meet the strategic goals of Lithuania and the EU, and would ensure balanced development (for example, obligation to ensure coverage of major transport corridors, 100 Mbps speed and low latency, and coverage of smaller towns, etc.).

“Firefighters have no GPS equipment needed to determine the coordinates of fire so that firefighters can travel to the scene, other services responsible for public safety and health communicate using technologically obsolete 2G radio communication which cannot ensure data transmission. Therefore, there is nothing to add but to start adopting new communication technologies as soon as possible and to move forward rapidly", - the Minister emphasized at the meeting.

The participants of the meeting also pointed out the state critical communication network that is planned to be deployed. Since this matter has not been discussed in detail with other interested parties, public authorities, the participants of the meeting proposed to evaluate alternative possibilities of operation of critical communication network of national importance and of coverage of the entire territory of Lithuania using the existing infrastructure of private mobile operators and by connecting, according to the need, to any mobile radio access network.

The matter of transposition into national law of the European Electronic Communications Code also was discussed at the meeting, and, at the same time, the question of changing the governance model of the Communications Regulatory Authority, which is proposed to be enshrined in the draft law, was also touched upon. It is known that the second term of office of the Director of the Communications Regulatory Authority ends in July 2021. Therefore, it is appropriate to addresse these matters in a comprehensive way.

According to the Minister, a strong, professional, depoliticised and transparent market regulator is a crucial condition for the further sustainable development of the market, innovation and value creation. Therefore, before making important decisions, this needs to be discussed with market participants and interested parties.