The path towards 5G in Portugal includes a new step, as of last Friday, 7th of February, when the Portuguese Council of Ministers issued its Government Order nr. 7-A/2020, mapping out the Government’s Strategy for 5G adoption in Portugal.

This 5G Strategy sets out 13 different action points, covering specific KPIs and associated timelines - all action points/goals are aimed at ensuring strategically selected and geographically cohesive coverage, with major milestones to be reached by 2020, 2023, 2024 and 2025 and financial terms associated with 5G spectrum allocation to be aligned by comparable EU prices.

The Strategy is aimed at fostering 5G as tool for development and competitiveness, nurturing cohesion and innovation and generally harnessing 5G as a force of innovation.

It follows and takes into consideration previous initiatives on 5G in Portugal – namely, the launch by national telecom regulator ANACOM of public consultations on both the future use of spectrum in various spectrum bands (specifically, in the 700 MHz, 900 MHz, 1800 MHz, 2,1 GHz, 2,6 GHz and 3,6 GHz ranges) and the transposition of the European Electronic Communications Code, as well as a Government-led national 5G cyber-risk assessment.

The major milestones and objectives in the Strategy can be summarized as follows:

  • Ensuring 5G implementation through contiguous spectrum in the 3,6 GHz band (80-100 MHz), for unencumbered access, under EU Commission’s Decision UE 2019/235, dated 24 January
  • Identifying actions to be undertaken by ANACOM including, among others: (i) regulating the terms of spectrum allocation; (ii) creating proposals for legislative drafts aimed at, among others, sensitization of relevant stakeholders; (iii) promoting a public consultation aimed at a new (reduced) annual spectrum fee; (iv) creating annual spectrum fees mechanisms that benefit operators ensuring 4G coverage in certain premises/region; (v) setting up a digital platform for monitoring and following the 5G adoption process, under an “open data” format
  • Identifying actions to be undertaken by the Government, including among others: (i) determining 5G financing tools and public interest needs on 5G (namely in what concerns emergency networks); (ii) developing studies on 5G impact on public health (with the purpose of providing accurate information to the population); (iii) promoting scientific/investigative initiatives and entrepreneurship; (iv) supporting testing on 5G in maritime and rural territory management; (v) exploring environmental sustainability/energetic efficiency in 5G installation
  • Establishing 5G implementation as a way of safeguarding national strategic goals, including 5G coverage targets by:
    • 2020: at least 1 city in low density territories and 1 coastal city, with over 50.000 people covered by 5G networks
    • 2023: among others, all districts with over 75.000 inhabitants, all public hospitals, 50% of public clinics in low density territories and 50% of all coastal public clinics, all universities and polytechnic schools, international airports, priority military premises
    • 2024: among others, all districts with over 50.000 inhabitants, 95% of the national road grid which traffic exceeds 7,3 million vehicles a year (in addition to specific highways), various major railway and underground system, major ports
    • 2025: among others, 90% of the population typically accessing at least 100Mbps and all remaining military premises
  • Determining that revenues arising from the 5G spectrum rights allocation process must be used for encouraging and supporting digital transition and inclusion – namely in the key areas of education, investigation, digital content product and digital literacy, as well as in the digital transformation of corporate entities and public administration
  • Compatibility with “Toolbox of risk mitigating measures” on 5G network security is essential
  • ANACOM should establish a prize for apps aimed at topics such as education, production and availability of digital content, tourism, inclusion, and environmental sustainability
  • Deciding that a working group on 5G networks is to be created, under coordination of a representative of the National Cybersecurity Centre and with members from various areas of government and expertise – this group is tasked with assisting competent entities and carrying out a periodic review of national 5G cybersecurity risks, among other tasks

The Strategy entered into force the day following its publication and further action is expected by both the Government and ANACOM, the main stakeholders on this matter, on the path to 5G implementation – not least of which, the 5G spectrum allocation process, which ANACOM expects to have concluded between June and August.