According to Spanish media, cable operator Masmovil has been awarded spectrum in the latest auction and so will soon challenge the existing mobile operators
In November last year, the Portuguese regulator Anacom made waves when it announced that it was reserving some 900 MHz and 1,800 MHz spectrum for a new entrant to the mobile market. On top of this, the auction name favourable conditions for the new player, including price breaks on the spectrum, nationwide roaming access for 10 years and “differentiated coverage obligations”.
The move enraged the existing telcos, with Altice Portugal’s Chief Corporate Officer Joao Zuquete da Silva saying that the move would encourage “parasitic investment operators” looking to capitalise on the existing operators hard work.
However, while the operators’ protests did force some minor concessions from the regulator, the spectrum auction went ahead in December and was concluded earlier this week. While Anacom has not specifically named the winners, it did announce that three 5 MHz blocks of 1,800 MHz spectrum had been sold, along with one block of 900 MHz, for a total of €84.35 million.
Given the reserve prices (€30 million for the 900 MHz block, €4 million each for the 1,800 MHz blocks), this final total suggests some competitive bidding for this spectrum.
Yesterday, Spanish newspaper Expansion reported that this spectrum had indeed been won by the new market entrant, Masmovil.
Masmovil currently operates as a mobile virtual network operator in Portugal via its subsidiary Nowo, but this spectrum should allow it to become a fully fledged mobile network operator in its own right. Nowo will be able to launch 4G services in Lisbon, Porto and the Algarve region; elsewhere they will have to rent the networks of the existing operators, Meo, Vodafone, and NOS.
No formal announcement has been made either confirming or denying this report.
Meanwhile, the next phase of the Portuguese spectrum auction is expected to begin next week, with blocks in the 700 MHz, 900 MHz, 1,800 MHz, 2.1 GHz, 2.6 GHz, and 3.6 GHz bands available.
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