Utility Connect obtains license for 450 MHz band until 2050

The Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy (EZK) announced on Thursday, April 11th, the long-awaited decision: Utility Connect (UC) obtains the license for the 450 MHz band. The license for the 450 MHz band, also known as the PAMR band, will be valid until 2050. Obtaining the license means that all stakeholders who have contributed to this lengthy and challenging process can successfully conclude it.

Utility Connect – a subsidiary of Alliander and Stedin – facilitates, based on the existing license, the communication of smart meters and other measuring and control equipment within the electricity and gas networks. The long duration of the license, more than 25 years, paves the way for a possible modern 450 MHz network that can be tailored to the specific requirements of the grid operator and can thus play an important role in the digitized energy system of the future.

The 450 MHz license
The granting of the license is necessary because Utility Connect’s current license expires in November 2024. The ministry chose to temporarily split the new license into two phases, phase A and phase B. The lower part of the spectrum, phase A (2 x 1.5 MHz), was already extended for UC until 2035, for the use by grid operators. For the upper part of the spectrum, phase B (2 x 1.5MHz), it remained unclear for a long time how the ministry would deal with it. Ultimately, the ministry chose to open up the license to all interested parties, with the possibility of auctioning if there were more bidders. Now, another interested party has withdrawn, and an auction is not necessary. This means that Utility Connect has been granted the entire license until 2050.

Important moment
This news comes at an important moment. Reports of vulnerabilities in electricity networks and increasing cyber attacks on vital infrastructure underscore the increasing need to set specific requirements for communication solutions. The further digitalization of the energy system increasingly requires specific data communication, especially with the growing number of devices and IT applications needed to measure, balance, and switch the energy network. Additionally, emergency communication for data and voice is also an important aspect. This license provides the opportunity to explore and develop a mission-critical network for vital infrastructure companies.