Bloomberg News reports that national regulator the Czech Telecommunication Office (CTU) has launched its auction of mobile frequencies suitable for the provision of 4G mobile services in the country. CTU spokesman Frantisek Malina is quoted as saying that the process will see four pre-qualified bidders – incumbents T-Mobile Czech Republic, Telefonica O2 CR and Vodafone Czech Republic and local financial firm PPF Group’s subsidiary PPF Mobile Services – taking part for spectrum in the 800MHz, 1800MHz and 2600MHz bands. The auction will close on 20 December 2012 and the winners will be announced soon after.
According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, the watchdog will auction off spectrum in three frequency bands, 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.