Matt Atlas

CTU Launches 5G Frequencies Auction

The Czech Telecommunication Office (ČTÚ) today launched a tender in which it will distribute radio frequencies for fast 5G mobile networks in the 700 MHz and 3400 to 3600 MHz bands in the form of an electronic auction. The Office informed about it in a press release. The auction itself will take place in the fall. Domestic operators have previously complained about the conditions of the upcoming competition. Vodafone has criticized them today, and T-Mobile plans to consider further steps, including possible lawsuits. O2 wants to study the terms first.

The Competition Office reserved part of the frequencies in the critical 700 MHz band for a new market player, further established a national roaming obligation for existing operators in favor of all new operators, set spectral limits for both frequencies taking into account the range of radio frequencies held by tenderers, defined lease obligation frequencies in favor of support for Industry 4.0 or also set criteria for the rapid development of new networks, including deadlines for the coverage of motorway and rail corridors. The Office also set the conditions for the future communication of crisis and security forces.

Applicants will be able to enter the competition until the end of September. The CTU will invite interested parties who meet the tender conditions to an electronic auction for frequencies.

In recent months, the CTU announced three public consultations on the conditions of the auction, today it published a table with settled comments on the last of them. The terms of competition, after adjustments, should create more room for the entry of a fourth operator, which would increase competition, and should lead to lower mobile data prices.

According to earlier information, in addition to the existing three mobile operators, the semi-state ČEZ, Sazka Mobil, or Nordic Telecom, for example, intend to participate in the auction.

Some operators have criticized the conditions of the upcoming tender in recent months. At the end of May, they described the competition requirements as discriminatory, especially in the area of national roaming. According to them, the conditions violated EU state aid rules. Because of this, the O2 operator filed a complaint with the European Commission in July.

Vodafone stated that the CTU did not take into account the allegations of the European Commission in the conditions of the auction on the 5G network. Due to other mistakes and problems, the company expects disputes in courts and the European Commission. “In many ways, the CTU exceeds its powers and does not respect Czech and European regulatory rules,” the company wrote. The auction conditions also detract from the necessary investments in 5G networks, especially in extra-urban areas. “The conditions give room for speculative behavior and the collapse of the entire auction, and its cancellation cannot be ruled out, as once happened in 2013,” Vodafone warned.

T-Mobile stated in a brief statement that it was surprised by the CTU’s action. “We need to study the conditions and consider further steps, including possible lawsuits,” he wrote. The O2 operator also needs time to study the published conditions.