ACM to Ministry of Economic Affairs: set caps on mobile frequencies to maintain competition


A balanced allocation of available frequencies is necessary in order to maintain sufficient competition on the Dutch mobile telephony market. That is one of the conclusions of the Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) in its recommendations about the spectrum auction, which have been drawn up at the request of the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy (EZK). In its recommendations, ACM believes it is necessary to impose maximum percentages (caps) on the number of frequencies that a single provider can own.

Henk Don, Member of the Board of ACM, explains: ‘A necessary precondition for effective competition is for each of the three current providers that have their own mobile networks to acquire the frequencies they need in order to continue competing effectively. That is why we recommend making sure that a frequency allocation that is too unfair will not be able to occur.’

ACM’s recommendations are to impose the following caps:

  • A 40% cap on total spectrum possession;
  • A 40% cap on possession of frequencies lower than 1 GHz. These frequencies are necessary in order to establish a network with national coverage at reasonable costs;
  • A 40% cap on the frequencies in the 3.5 GHz band to be auctioned off. Possession of frequencies in the 3.5 GHz band is necessary to be able to offer a full-fledged 5G network.

Besides the maximum percentages, ACM does not propose any other measures for the auction. This also means that ACM does not think it is necessary to set aside spectrum for a possible new fourth provider in the frequencies that will be auctioned off.


Prior to the final recommendations about the auction, ACM published the draft recommendations. Interested parties had the opportunity to submit their opinions about these draft recommendations. Several interested parties did so, and their opinions have been taken into account in the final recommendations that ACM has published today.


In late-2019 or early-2020, mobile frequencies in the 700, 1400 and 2100 MHz bands will be auctioned off. The 3.5 GHz band, which is important for the rollout of 5G, will be auctioned off in late-2021 or early-2022. EZK has asked ACM to issue recommendations about possible measures to protect competition in the market for mobile communication.

See also

09-04-2019 ACM’s recommendations on possible measures for frequency auction (in Dutch)