Proposed conditions for sale of frequencies in 700 MHz and 3.5 GHz bands designed to attract new player

The Czech Telecommunication Office has published draft conditions governing its forthcoming sale of frequencies suitable for 5G mobile services, noting that reserve prices on the available spectrum mean the process should net upwards of quarter of a billion euros for government coffers and that the conditions of the sale are designed to facilitate the entry of a new player to the market.

The regulator aims to auction off spectrum in the 700 MHz and 3.5 GHz bands in January next year with a view to handing over the airwaves to operators by April for use by mid-2020.

"In order to fulfil one of the main goals of the auction, which is increased competition on the electronic communications market, a block allocation of 2×10 MHz is reserved to the new operators in the 700 MHz frequency band," the CTU, as the office is known locally, said.

Should the country’s existing operators show limited interest in the auction, the newcomer will have the option to pick up an additional 5 MHz, it added.

Further, any incumbent operator acquiring 700-MHz spectrum will be required to provide national roaming to the newcomer for six years. However, to take advantage of this condition the newcomer – should one emerge – will have to cover 20% of the Czech population with its own network.

The CTU does not intend to reserve spectrum for a new operator in the 3.5 GHz band, but it will impose lower spectrum caps than those the incumbents will be subjected to, it said.

The regulator also outlined a series of coverage obligations the auction participants must adhere to.

Finally it noted that it has set reserve prices based on analysis of spectrum sales elsewhere in Europe. Presuming all available frequencies are sold, the state will raise upwards of 6.3 billion koruna (€248 million).

As it stands, the Czech mobile market is contested by three network operators: O2, T-Mobile and Vodafone. With a population just north of 10 million, the opportunity for a new player in the Czech could be limited, but recent local press reports suggest a number of interested parties have held talks with the government.