The 4.5G IMT-Advanced License signing ceremony was held at the Rixos Grand Ankara Hotel, which was overseen by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Speaking at the ceremony, Erdoğan stressed that along with the introduction of 4.5G in Turkey, he was also pleased with the obligation imposed on phone operators to only use local products and purchase products and services from local research and development firms while building their infrastructure for 4.5G networks. The tender for 4.5G was held on Aug. 26, 2015, and three GSM companies submitted a proposal to share frequencies that totaled 4 billion euros. Until today, half the contract price has been paid and the remaining amount will be paid over the course of 18 months in three installments. With the signing of the license, the implementation process of the tender is starting and the introduction of this new service, planned for April 2016, will greatly contribute to Turkey's growth, development and improvement. Erdoğan also said other major projects that have been implemented in Turkey within the last few weeks – such as the launch of the Türksat 4B satellite and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) Water Supply Project. He also underlined the importance of the introduction of the 4.5G network and the need for the updates required in order to launch 5G as soon as possible. He said 4.5G will offer wider and quicker Internet access, and such an improvement will be felt in many fields all over the country. As Erdoğan stressed, due to the obligation to use local products and to cooperate with local firms, the 4.5G technology base stations will be developed and manufactured totally in Turkey as part of the ULAK Project between the Undersecretariat for Defense Industries and ASELSAN. The project will also offer infrastructure for further product development, manufacturing and exports. "We believe the ULAK Project will contribute $5 billion to our economy. With such developments, Turkey will become a producer of technology, not just a consumer," Erdoğan added. Interim Transportation, Maritime and Communication Minister Feridun Bilgi also spoke at the ceremony and highlighted the importance of the Internet economy. "While economic growth in G20 countries is expected to slow down, the growth speed of the Internet economy is expected to be much higher, at around 8 percent," Bilgi said. He added that while information technologies were the leading force behind the industry for the past 60 years, now information and communication technologies will soon witness similar improvements in the service sector. Information and Communication Technologies Authority President Ömer Fatih Sayan referred to the 4.5G tender as a win-win-win Project for operators – thanks to lower investment costs, for the Treasury – with the tender price and the taxes to be levied and also for consumers, as they will be receiving a much faster service. "As of April 1, 2016, our citizens will have Internet access that is 10 times faster. Furthermore, Internet access will be extended to roads, highways, tunnels and high-speed train lines." Vodafone, one of the GSM operators who participated in the tender, paid the remainder of the contract price a day before the signing ceremony, thus becoming the only operator that paid 778 million euros for the frequencies awarded to it in cash.
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