National telecoms watchdog the Czech Telecommunications Office (CTU) yesterday published its new outline plan for the auctioning off of mobile frequencies suitable to support Long Term Evolution (LTE) services, and hopefully result in the launch of a fourth mobile network operator in the country. The Wall Street Journal quotes the watchdog as saying: ‘The goal is to support the development of high speed mobile internet networks of the fourth-generation, intensify competition, support the entrance of a new mobile operator and improve the quality of mobile services’.
The CTU’s revised auction plan, which follows the debacle of its cancelled tender last month when bids rose three-fold on the reserve price of CZK7.4 billion (USD373.6 million) to exceed CZK20 billion, envisages a public consultation period lasting until 8 May. Following this, in June this year the CTU expects to be in a position to announce the deadline for interested parties to submit bids. Further, the regulator now expects bids to be below CZK10 billion. This time, the watchdog aims to put a cap on bids arguing that such high sums as seen in the original auction would hamper operators’ efforts to roll out 4G, leading them to seek to recoup investment costs by imposing higher charges on end users. The CTU now plans to offer frequencies in the 800MHz band – seen as potentially the most lucrative block on offer – exclusively to a new market entrant, in a bid to break the stranglehold of the big three – Telefonica O2 CR, T-Mobile CR and Vodafone’s local unit.