The new spectrum auction will reserve 2×10 MHz in the 700 MHz band for new applications to enter the market
On Friday, the Czech Telecommunications Office (CTU) has began a tender process to award spectrum in the 700 MHz and the 3.4–3.6 GHz bands. Furthermore, 2×10 MHz of the 700 MHz band will be reserved for a new entrant in the market.
The auction has been a long time coming, with initial plans scheduling it for the latter half of 2019.
However, the process encountered its first major hurdle when the European Commission objected to a network sharing deal between Telefonica and Deutsche Telekom’s Czech units, which the Commission claimed “restricts competition in breach of European Union antitrust rules”.
The date for the auction was initially pushed back to January 2020, but the timeline was extended in December as the government decided to allow for more time to attract a potential fourth player to the telecoms market.
While the entrance of a new player would certainly please politicians and customers, who have been complaining of the high prices due to a lack of competition for some time, the country’s major operators, Vodafone, Telefonica, and Deutsche Telekom, are less than pleased. Additional stipulations attached to the auction include introducing a limit on the amount of frequencies held by each operator, as well as the provision of national roaming services for any new market entrants until they can develop their own 5G networks.
“Given the mistakes and problems in the conditions, it can be expected that the auction will result in clashes at courts and also the European Commission,” said Vodafone in a statement.
The Czech government have to walk a difficult path when it comes to 5G. On the one hand, a lack of competition has driven up prices, creating an issue that certainly needs to be addressed. However, doing so will cause a storm of legal battles with the regulator, potentially slowing down the country’s access to 5G – and any related economic boost.
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