Taking counsel: WiMAX licenses to be issued in Lithuania

  • 2007-08-01
  • by Tomas Ivanauskas [Jurevicius, Balciunas & Bartkus]
The Lithuanian communications regulatory authority 's CRA 's has announced a tender to grant the right to use radio frequencies (channels) for building and operating public wireless networks in the 3.410 - 3.600 GHz radio frequency band. In such networks WiMax, or other broadband mobile technology, will be employed providing the possibility for the user to get a wireless connection to the Internet with a maximum speed of 70 Mbps.

Lithuania follows in the footsteps of Estonia, where the WiMAX networks were already being implemented in 2005. All major players in the electronic communications market in Lithuania expressed some interest in participating in the announced tender, which is expected to end by October 2007. The winners of the tender will be awarded permits to use radio frequencies in the aforementioned frequency band and will be entitled to build and operate national wireless broadband networks.

Prior the tender CRA has adopted a plan for the development of radio communications in the 3.410 - 3.600 GHz radio frequency band (The Development Plan), which has set the main strategic guidelines for WiMAX development. The Development Plan envisages principal requirements for the development of the networks, as well as indicates the licensing policy related to mobile broadband. In accordance with the Plan the CRA will grant two different types of permits: (i) national permits to use radio frequencies throughout the territory of the Republic of Lithuania, and (ii) regional permits, which will entitle the holder to build the networks in specific parts of Lithuania.

As it was noted, the announced tender was intended to grant the participants the national permits, meaning the holder would have the right and the obligation corresponding to such a right to build the national network. According to the information that was released by the CRA prior to the tender it plans to grant up to three permits. The term of the permit is set for 15 years from the day of issuance (date of the permit).

The winner of the tender will have the obligation to ensure that the minimal requirements for the development of the network are met. Such requirements include the obligation for the winner to install the network in at least three Lithuanian cities within 2 years from the date of the permit. This network should cover at least 50 percent of the population in each city. Accordingly the network should be installed in 5 cities within 5 years from the date of the permit. Furthermore the permit holder must ensure that within 10 years from the date of the permit the network would be installed in the entire territory of Lithuania covering 90 percent of the population.

The organizations participating in the tender shall provide the commission with a technical plan for the network development, a marketing plan for the planned services, as well as a financial plan with an indication of the estimated amount of the investments. These documents will be taken as a basis for the evaluation of the participant's offer.
During the evaluation process the level of possible concentration of the market of electronic communications services will be considered when issuing the permit to a particular participant. Other criteria will include the speed of network implementation, start date of the services, and availability of access to the network to inhabitants in rural areas.

Tender participants can deliver the documents to the CRA until 14:00 on Aug. 14, 2007.

Tomas Ivanauskas is an advocate and an associate lawyer at Jurevicius, Balciunas & Bartkus, a member of Baltic Legal Solutions, a pan-Baltic integrated legal network of law firms including Teder, Glikman & Partnerid in Estonia and Kronbergs & Cukste in Latvia, dedicated to providing a quality "one-stop shop" approach to clients' needs in the Baltics.