Turkey’s Minister of Transport and Communications, Lutfi Elvan, has revealed that the government expects to stage a multi-band spectrum auction in May this year, paving the way for the introduction of commercial 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) technology by year-end. Frequencies in the following spectrum bands will go under the hammer: 800MHz,900MHz, 1800MHz, 2100MHz and 2600MHz. Alongside incumbent trio Turkcell, Vodafone Turkey and Avea, a block of 2600MHz spectrum will also be reserved for a new market entrant, although there will be no obligation for the newcomer to introduce GSM services. The government hopes that the cellcos will extend 4G coverage to 90% of the population within six years.
Meanwhile, Turkcell, the country’s largest mobile service provider in terms of subscribers, has repeated claims that it is ready to launch 4G technology immediately, with CEO Ilker Kuruoz commenting: ‘At Turkcell, we had started working on future-proof technologies many years ago. We have kept our readiness levels very high for 4G by investing in our network, expanding our fibre backbone and launching our own-branded 4G smartphone, the Turkcell T50. [The] announcement by the Ministry confirms that we have taken the right steps at the right time.’
According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, both Avea and Turkcell have played an active role in trialling 4G technology. Avea achieved downlink speeds of up to 300Mbps in an LTE-Advanced (LTE-A) trial staged in April 2013, while Turkcell successfully conducted an LTE-A test in Istanbul in August 2013, achieving downlink transmission speeds of 891.6Mbps. While details of its tests are less clear, Vodafone has also expressed a strong interest in deploying LTE, asserting that it is ‘ready to transition to 4G’.