Matt Atlas

5G Auction Postponed, CTO Under New Leadership

The government postponed the auction of 5G frequencies.

Czech Telecommunication Office (CTO) has been ordered to make the auction more attractive to foreign mobile operators.

The auction is expected to add at least CZK 6 billion to the state budget. The opposition is critical of the auction delay.

Foreign bidders have zero interest in the auction, according to the Minister of Industry and Trade Karel Havlicek, and only one smaller Czech bidder would apply. The sale with new conditions could be announced in May or June this year. It was supposed to be in January. Havlíček pointed out that the preparations for the frequency auction had non-standard elements.
The auction is intended to bring a new mobile operator to the market, thus strengthening competition and lowering mobile prices. According to Havlíček, it’s launching now would not “help” because of the lack of competition.

The head of the CTO Jan Novak resigned over the auction delay and has been replaced by Jana Tovarkova.

The new chairwoman, Továrková, has been on the CTO Council since November 2019, when she was appointed for five years. She said she would like to promote not only timely and transparent 5G networking, but also to help address the issue of mobile data prices. She was also a member of the Board of Directors and Chair of the IT and Telecommunications Section of the Czech Chamber of Commerce.

The state is supposed to auction frequencies in the 700 and 3500 MHz bands, which are intended for 5G networks, through the CTU. These promise faster speed and faster response than existing LTE networks. They should allow the development of areas such as autonomous governance and the Internet of Things. The 700 MHz band will be available after the transition of terrestrial TV to the new DVB-T2 standard in the middle of this year.

The existing O2, T-Mobile, and Vodafone mobile operators are likely to participate in the auction, and Nordic Telecom has also expressed interest.