Portugal’s operators are protesting the regulators decision to encourage new entrants into the market, with Altice Portugal saying it will halt a number of investment projects

Portugal’s regulator ANACOM announced the rules for its upcoming auction of 5G spectrum last week and the reception from the country’s existing operators has been frosty to say the least.


The rule which appears to be the most contentious is ANACOM’s decision to encourage new market entrants to participate in the auction, even setting aside bands of spectrum in the 900 MHz and 1.8 GHz bands specifically for this purpose. The regulator will also give new entrants nationwide roaming access for 10 years, as well as “differentiated coverage obligations”.


In response to this announcement, Altice Portugal is threatening to cease some of its current investment projects in protest at the “disastrous decisions” the regulator has made.


Speaking to Portuguese media agency Lusa, Altice Portugal’s Chief Corporate Officer Joao Zuquete da Silva said that the regulation of the auction “is a fallacy, prepared so that the National Communications Authority (Autoridade Nacional de Comunicacoes, ANACOM) can comply with a set of statistical indicators, which in no way serve the people, the economy, the country”.


He went on to suggest that such measures would not incentivise new entrants to contribute to nationwide infrastructure and would instead set them up to piggyback on the hard work of the existing operators, calling such opportunistic entrants “parasitic investment operators”.


Altice is not the only Portuguese operator to find fault in this plan. Vodafone, the third largest operator in Portugal, said back in October that it would consider not bidding for 5G spectrum at all if new players were to be encouraged to enter the market.


But for prospective new players, this ruleset could be an intriguing opportunity. Masmovil, for example, recently became the sole shareowner of Portugues cable company Nowo, and reportedly has goals of participating in the 5G auction and building out a new fibre network, beginning with Lisbon and Porto.


Portugal’s 5G spectrum auction was initially scheduled to take place in the summer of this year, but the coronavirus resulted in a lengthy delay. Now spectrum in the 700 MHz, 900 MHz, 1.8 GHz, 2.1 GHz, 2.6 GHz, and 3.6 GHz bands is expected to be auctioned in Q1 of 2021.


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