The Czech Telecommunications Office (CTU) has launched its revised auction of frequencies capable of supporting 4G mobile services, and says it is confident it will attract a new player to the country’s cellular market. Commenting on the new tender, CTU spokesman Frantisek Malina said: ‘We’re putting aside dedicated bandwidth to attract a new mobile company to offer its services here’.
Under the plan, the CTU intends to kick off the auction proper in November this year, and has set a 30 September deadline for companies wishing to take part in the process. It is ring-fencing spectrum in the 800MHz band specifically for new operators in an attempt to increase competition in a sector that is dominated by three incumbents – Telefonica O2 CR, T-Mobile CR and Vodafone CR. Although the 800MHz band is restricted, the CTU is opening up parts of the 1800MHz and 2600MHz bands to all-comers, which it says are suitable for the rollout of 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) services on a nationwide basis. The spectrum is likely to be awarded in the first quarter of 2014.
As previously reported by TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate, the CTU’s revised auction follows the debacle of its cancelled tender in March this year, when bids rose three-fold on the reserve price of CZK7.4 billion (USD373.6 million) to exceed CZK20 billion, prompting fears that such high sums would hamper operators’ efforts to roll out 4G, leading them to seek to recoup investment costs by imposing higher charges on end users. In response to the watchdog’s revised schedule, the Republic’s existing mobile operators – in particular Telefonica O2 CR – openly criticised its plans however, arguing that they will be at a competitive disadvantage if the new entrant is allowed to pay less for its licence. In recent months two local telcos, PPF Mobile Services and Dial Telecom, have expressed interest in bidding in the auction.