The Czech Telecommunication Office (CTU) has formally accepted all four bids submitted for its forthcoming auction of 4G mobile frequencies, including one from a potential market entrant. In a statement today, the national regulator confirmed that the applications – from incumbents T-Mobile Czech Republic, Telefonica O2 CR and Vodafone Czech Republic and local financial firm PPF Group’s subsidiary PPF Mobile Services – have all been given the green light, allowing them to proceed to the tender phase. The CTU hopes to have made its final decision on the granting of 4G licences suitable for Long Term Evolution (LTE) technologies by the end of this year. The CTU is confident that the auction will generate ‘billions of crowns’ for state coffers, as well as from the ongoing annual fees licensees will be required to pay for using the frequencies.
According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, the watchdog will auction off spectrum in three frequency bands – 800MHz, 1800MHz and 2600MHz – with the lowest band considered key to developing widespread high speed broadband mobile internet coverage across the country. The reserve price for this band has been set at CZK1.1 billion (USD54.89 million) for the six blocks on offer but, partly in response to comments from industry players, it is understood the CTU believes that an extension in national roaming conditions would be the best way for a newcomer to get off the ground without prohibitive start-up costs. The regulator also now intends to cut the cost of new frequencies in the 1800MHz band by 20% to attract a newcomer, with the PPF Group (controlled by billionaire Petr Kell) considered the only viable contender to establish a venture to challenge the big three incumbents at this time. However, analysts remain to be convinced that that Czech mobile market is big enough and lucrative enough to support a new entrant.