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Hungary ICT - 5G Development

The development of 5G networks in Hungary will open sales opportunities for a wide range of solutions.

Hungary is looking to quickly launch an efficient 5G network, thereby acting as a European hub for 5G development.  An auction for national spectrum licenses for the development of 5G in the 700MHz, 2.1GHz, and 3.6GHz bands was concluded in March 2020. The three dominant mobile players won spectrum with licenses covering 15 years until 2035. The 700MHz frequency band would only become available after September 2020, as it is used for broadcasting until then.

A new round of auction preparations began for frequencies in the 900 MHz and 1,800 MHz bands, currently used by three mobile service providers, but their licenses will expire in early 2022.  Sales are expected to begin in October 2020 and to close in the first quarter of 2021. The new licenses will be valid for 15 years and could be extended by five years.

In terms of commercial 5G service, the first operator that launched this service was Vodafone Hungary, in partnership with Huawei, in October 2019. It has continued to expand its 5G network coverage with the development of 5G base stations in larger rural towns and around Lake Balaton. The company initially deployed 5G base stations in the inner city of Budapest and Zalaegerszeg.  Vodafone’s position as the sole option in Hungary for 5G services was challenged by Magyar Telekom which also launched commercial 5G services in early April 2020.

Since mid-2018, Magyar Telekom has been conducting 5G trials and the first 5G standard station opened at Zalaegerszeg (West Hungary) at the end of January 2019.  This operator is 59.2% owned by Deutsche Telecom and worked with Ericsson on the construction of its 4G network. While Magyar Telekom tested 5G technology with several suppliers, including Huawei’s Hungarian unit, it declared the launch of its 5G services in Hungary with Ericsson providing the 5G base stations for its network in April 2020.  

Since then, Magyar Telekom’s 5G service is available in 23 towns. The latest expansion makes ultra-fast mobile internet accessible to 40% of Hungarian homes and businesses. The Telekom portfolio currently features two 5G-capable devices (LG and Huawei), but the range of devices would continue to expand by the end of the year, with 5G-capable devices being made available from several vendors.  Telekom‘s commercial 5G service is operating within the 3.6 GHz frequency range.

The third operator, Telenor, has yet to launch commercial 5G services. In May 2019, it piloted services in Győr (North West Hungary) using technology from the ZTE Corporation, which also provided 5G-capable mobile phones for the testing.

The development of 5G networks in Hungary will open sales opportunities for a wide range of products and solutions, ranging from security solutions and network products to accessories for end-user equipment. The current government of Hungary has close commercial and political ties with Russia and China, and will allow equipment originating from those markets to be used in the 5G rollout. Hungary does not share the same concerns about 5G security as the U.S., which  may make it difficult for U.S. companies to participate in 5G deployment in the market.

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