William Malcolm

Czech 5G Auction Draws Seven Bidders

Seven groups have applied to take part in the Czech Republic’s auction for new frequencies for next-generation 5G networks, telecoms regulator CTU said on Thursday.

The CTU stated that all requests of existing operators for the issuance of interim measures, filed with the court to stop the tender, were rejected. None of the operators succeeded with their request at the Municipal Court in Prague, the CTU added.

According to the auction conditions, those interested in frequencies may not comment on their participation in the auction. However, as expected, all existing operators, O2, T-Mobile, and Vodafone, probably signed up. There was speculation about the participation of Nordic Telecom, Poda, or Sazka Mobil. On the contrary, ČEZ announced its non-participation today.

“Today, with the participation of a notary, the envelopes with applications to the tender were opened, which will continue to proceed as expected. A total of seven applicants submitted their applications within the set deadline,” the CTU announced.

The total starting price of frequencies is 5.4 billion crowns, about 900 million less than the Office’s original plan last year. The reason is the results of similar competitions elsewhere in the world and the reduction in the price of one of the frequency blocks, followed by the obligation to provide so-called national roaming. The Office revised the auction conditions three times.

The Office should allocate frequencies at the turn of the year.

Three domestic operators challenged the auction through lawsuits and complaints to the European Commission. They are particularly bothered by national roaming conditions and the small bandwidth in the 3.4-3.6 GHz band. According to them, the auction contains unauthorized public support. According to the chairwoman of the CTU, there is no support.

The auction should bring to market one or more new operators who would increase competition in the market, which could lead to a drop in mobile data price. According to an earlier estimate by the government’s commissioner for technology and digitization, Vladimír Dzurilla, the auction could reduce the cost of unlimited mobile data to approximately CZK 700 per month. Now it is usually over 1000 CZK.