Czech operators hit out at 5G tender criteria

Czech operators hit out at 5G tender criteria

Operators in the Czech Republic have criticised the regulator’s 5G launch proposals, which are aimed at increasing competition in the market.

As it prepares to allocate 5G-capable spectrum in the 700MHz and 3400MHz–3600MHz bands, the Czech Telecommunication Office (CTU) has imposed a number of criteria on the tender process, including holding back a 2x10MHz block of 700MHz spectrum for new market entrants.

TeleGeography also reports that the regulator has set limits on the amount of spectrum that a single bidder can acquire in either band, stipulated that current operators must provide beneficial roaming terms for newcomers, and laid out coverage criteria relating to national infrastructure, amongst other conditions.

The regulator’s conditions are based on a public consultation made ahead of the tender launch, and factor in longstanding criticism from both politicians and consumers around the high cost of mobile services in the market.

Operators were quick to highlight issues with the regulator’s proposals, with Vodafone CR arguing: “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.”

Reuters quoted T-Mobile’s Jiri Janecek as saying: “We have to study the conditions and ponder our next steps, including possible charges.” O2 Czech Republic complained to the EU Commission last month about the auction’s terms.

The criticism is not unwarranted, with CommsUpdate noting that the former chief executive of the CTU Jaromir Novak left his post in January 2020 over a disagreement with government changes to the 5G auction terms.

Novak argued that any late changes to the proposals would deter bidders and stall the advent of 5G, saying: “I cannot sign under auction conditions that in my deep conviction will not improve the competitive environment in the Czech market, they will jeopardise the target of rapidly introducing 5G networks and they will likely lead to a number of court disputes.”

The CTU has confirmed that potential bidders must apply before 30th September 2020 to participate in the auction.

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