Amendments to the existing GSM and 3G (IMT-2000/UMTS) Concession Agreements, which had been referred to the Council of State after their signature subsequent to the handing-over of IMT authorization certificates on 27/10/2015 graced with the presence of President Recep Tayyip ERDOĞAN, have been finalized in line with the Council of State’s opinions and eventually signed between Board Chairman Dr. Ömer Fatih SAYAN acting on behalf of the Information Technologies and Communications Authority (ICTA) and authorized signatories of Avea İletişim Hizmetleri AŞ, Turkcell İletişim Hizmetleri AŞ, and Vodafone Telekomünikasyon AŞ at a ceremony that took place with the participation of Mr. Binali YILDIRIM, Minister of Transport, Maritime and Communications (MTMC).
Minister YILDIRIM “Communication is going to be much faster from now on”
MTMC Minister Binali YILDIRIM held a speech at the ceremony, in which he made following statements: “We have been building roads in the country. In the past, we used to have single-lane roads. There used to be heavy traffic and a large amount of accidents. Then we said, let’s make the roads wider. So, we increased the number of lanes which helped to cut down the number of accidents. There are roads in transportation, and there are also roads in communication. We can’t see these roads. There are terrestrial roads and also fiber roads. In the past, when we used to have just normal telephones, we could not take pictures or send messages, but just talk. So, a single road would suffice. But now the roads currently available are coming short, because there is much more going on. So, what needs to be done is to broaden the roads of mind, to broaden the roads of communication. What we are doing here is to serve this target. We have increased the existing 183 MHz by 365 MHz, which is more than the two-fold of what was previously available. This means that communication is going to be much faster from now on. Second, it does also mean that now we will be able to furnish all sorts of services by all means. There is no more such thing like this automobile goes this way and this truck goes that way. If there is a road available, you can take it no matter which vehicle you are driving”.

Minister YILDIRIM said: “The State is obliged to allocate roads, but the works to be done on the roads are the operator’s job. This is the way it should be by all reason and logic. If we would attempt to manage everything, we would end up not being capable to manage anything. The lane numbers of roads have increased, their capacity has increased, and their infrastructure is complete. Superstructure is the operators’ responsibility. This is where you are going to show your skills. In the past, the 900 band would be used only for 2G, not 3G. There is no transition between 1800 and 900; more and more investments are made. What a pity, what a sin. Now, we are interconnecting it all with 4.5G, which is a real huge step taken both for the sake of service diversity and removal of duplicate investments”.

Minister YILDIRIM expressed that “There is one thing we should know when 4,5G starts on April 1. We say that there is a 10 times speed difference between 3 G and 4,5 G. That’s right, it is indeed faster. But it would be wrong when someone would go to a village in Erzincan on April 1 and say ‘hey, where the hell is the 10 times higher speed’. We must put this right. We have 8 years time. These roads cannot be built on a single day, but step by step. April 1 is just the start. Some of them will be done until April 1 and reach over to every corner of Turkey during the course of 8 years. For instance, we have built tunnels with an overall length of 520 kilometers. There will be service in these tunnels too. There can be no limitation like ‘not those which are below 1 kilometer, but only those above’. Any such limitation would be inacceptable. If there is a tunnel at 300 meters, there will be service for sure. How can such limitation ever be set? Service cannot be limited. All tunnels will have coverage. All main routes will be under coverage too. No excuse will be accepted for main roads. You should know that there are still a lot of places without coverage. You all give yourself airs and compete with each other in your ads, but the actual situation is quite different. I’m traveling on the roads. I am the person who inspects it best. You will of course earn money, engage in trade, but don’t forget that it is your duty to ensure the satisfaction of our citizens. We expect you to show more efforts in this respect”.

Expressing his opinions about domestic production and R&D, Minister YILDIRIM said “4,5 G is a step. A step taken towards 5G, but along with that, there are two most important features. The first is increased speed in communication; and the second is the increased number of lanes, that is to say increased number of mind roads. There are also secondary yields peculiar to it, namely the opportunity created for more local content. We have increased the number of R&D staff by 50 percent; the domesticity rates have been increased too. And we have brought an end to tricky practices of SMEs importing products and selling them via SMEs. There is no place anymore for cunning like ‘I’ve brought the product, so let’s just assume we have met this condition’. The products to be imported will be produced there to the extent required. We do not say that everything shall be domestic to 50 percent from today to tomorrow. But to assume the position of mere supplier, to make only efforts of making sales is something that we cannot accept. All those who earn money here must create added value this way or the other. We need to create employment. We all need to shoulder responsibility to improve our technology. Therefore, ICTA is going to be a close follower of this issue. It will be a close follower of the requirement to increase the amount of local content, which is an absolute must in order that information and communication technologies can create added value for our country, while our citizens can enjoy better services at better quality. High speed on the roads is disaster, but in information technologies it is abundance. That’s what we say. Therefore, you must do your best to increase this abundance”.
Pointing out the importance of fiber, YILDIRIM noted that “From this year onwards, we need to commence mobilization to the fiber issue and address the currently existing conflict of authorization. We cannot plan our future relying on the capacity currently available to us. Today’s traffic volume is much less than the traffic volume in developed countries. This cannot serve as criterion for us. What is the criterion? In information technologies, 5 years may suffice to turn your plans upside down. In 2009, we as the council of transportation and communication used to speak of ‘100 Megabits internet in households’. The people would just say ‘the minster must be out of his mind!”. Now, people are snorting at us once again. In communication, it is not possible to adopt a very long-term vision, to set a very long-term horizon. What we must do right now is to commence mobilization for the fiber network of our country”.

Minister YILDIRIM also warned all operators about the fiber issue: “Let’s put aside all your small concerns. Do not think something like ‘we might suffer loss if this or that company makes fiber’. You all will gain the upper hand anyway. You will seek ways to get the upper hand through your performance, the diversity of services you furnish, the service quality and content you offer. Putting up barricades to block the roads in order to gain advantage is not an option. We can all see the amount of damage caused to our country by those who resort to this. I take this opportunity to address here the issue of fiber, and I invite all operators to let aside all their small concerns and see the big picture. We are well aware of the problems faced in practice and we have initiated the steps to solve them. You will see that it is going to be a win-win situation for everybody if we manage to do this. You will win, the country will win, and our people will win.”
ICTA Chairman SAYAN “365.4 MHz additional frequency resources allocated to operators”
ICTA Chairman Dr. Ömer Fatih SAYAN held a speech at the ceremony where he noted that “On occasion of the 4.5G tender, 365.4 MHz additional frequency resources have been allocated to operators for the provision of mobile electronic communication services. The total tender price in return for allocated frequencies reached up to 12.8 billion TL. Until now, 6.5 billion TL of that amount have been paid to the Treasury’s account. The remaining 6.3 billion TL will be paid in 3 equal installments until April 2017.

The 365.4 MHz allocated in the tender together with the 183.8 MHz previously allocated within scope of 2G and 3G Concession Agreements make up a total of 549,2 MHz frequency resources currently allocated to operators. We can say that thereby we have opened the way for a faster provision of mobile broadband services at higher quality.

The 4.5G authorization has given flexibility to operators in their use of technology, that is to say they have gained the chance to offer to our citizens new technologies including 5G at one and the same time with the rest of the world; all thanks to this authorization. The ultimate aim of these arrangements is to give the operators the chance to make use of developing technologies as well as cutting edge technologies such as 5G without the need to obtain any permission, while being able to plan their networks with larger flexibility.

This being the case, the frequencies allocated within scope of the 4.5G tender and the frequencies allocated for 2G and 3G services have altogether created the opportunity for neutral utilization of technology. Necessary amendments have been made to 2G and 3G Concession Agreements so that these rights and opportunities can be exercised.

The new rights and opportunities we have created will pave the way for an efficient and effective use of the allocated spectrum, while preventing the wastage of frequencies as part of our country’s national resources. Moreover, operators will be able to adapt their networks to new technologies in a much faster and much more efficient way, and offer much faster services to consumers at higher quality by taking optimum advantage of opportunities created by new technologies.

Along with that, the 4.5G authorization has given the chance for the first time ever to consider those areas that are subject to 4.5G coverage to have already been covered at the time when determining the 3G coverage obligations. This will not only prevent the operators from being forced to make duplicate investments within scope of 3G, but will encourage the extension and usage of new technologies. In this respect, necessary amendments have been made to 3G Concession Agreements so that operators can take this opportunity created by 4.5G authorization.

Another important issue is the obligation of active wireless access sharing on divided highways, motorways, tunnel coverage, conventional railway routes, speed and high-speed railway routes, as well as settlement areas with less than 10 thousand population. In other words, all 3 operators will be able to furnish service to their subscribers over a single base station in these areas. We believe that thereby we will be able to save considerable amounts of resource. Subsequent to 4.5G authorization, the antenna plants installed within framework of 3G Concession Agreements have also been included into the scope of this obligation. Accordingly, necessary amendments have been made to 3G Concession Agreements so that this obligation introduced on occasion of the 4.5G authorization can be met by the operators.

Besides, a frequency change, also called as refarming, will be made to the 900 MHz band by the operators as part of their bidding conditions. Said change will be made on Sunday, the 14th of February. Thereby, operators will be able to make consecutive and aggregate use of their frequencies on the 900 MHz band.

With the problem of limited frequency resources being removed, it will bring along many developments of utmost significance such as inter-machine communication, internet of objects, cloud computing, TV via internet protocol, smart cities, use of remote-controlled robot technologies in tele-surgeries, and much more.

It will be easier to ensure public security, while the police forces will be able to share instant images at better quality for use in decision support mechanisms.

On the other hand, there is an important issue I would like to note. Our country and our people will get acquainted with 4.5G services by 1 April 2016. It is for sure that the development and improvement we have achieved in our country in the last 13 years with regard to information technologies and communications will gain considerable acceleration and a whole new dimension by 1 Nisan 2016. Taking firm steps towards the targets set for 2023, Turkey will attain a much faster communication and internet infrastructure thanks to this milestone.”

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