Austria postpones 5G spectrum auction due to coronavirus crisis

Austria will postpone its 5G spectrum auction due to the coronavirus crisis, telecoms regulator RTR said on Thursday.
Huawei 5G base station in ChinaThe spectrum auction for the 700, 1,500 and 2,100 MHz bands was initially planned for April. The government is yet to reveal the new date for conducting the 5G spectrum auction.

Austria’s telecoms regulator RTR earlier said bidders in the second auction of 5G licenses will have to commit to roll out fast internet in rural areas, aiming to ensure 5G internet for every community in the largely rural and mountainous country.

The government will offer new 5G licenses under the condition that the acquirer will provide fast internet for a certain number of communities that are currently poorly supplied. The buyer can supply more communities than required for a discount on the purchase price depending on the number of extra communities.

Earlier spectrum auction

Earlier, Austria has sold 5G licenses in the 3.4 to 3.8 GHz band to three national mobile operators and a handful of local players, bringing in 188 million euros or $213 million in an auction.

Austria’s three major mobile network providers, which all bought licenses in the first round, are A1 Telekom Austria, which is controlled by Mexican tycoon Carlos Slim and the Austrian state, Deutsche Telekom’s Magenta Telekom and Chinese Hutchison’s Drei Austria.

Deutsche Telekom has said it would invest a total of 1 billion euros until 2021 to build its 5G network in Austria, Reuters reported.

A1 Group said it would cooperate with state-controlled firms including rail company OeBB, motorway operator Asfinag and residential property group BIG in expanding and upgrading networks to be fast and keep costs low.

Deutsche Telekom’s T-Mobile, Telekom Austria’s A1 and Hutchison Drei secured licenses in all 12, while four local operators secured licenses in up to three zones each.

A1 had the biggest bid with 64.3 million euros, followed by T-Mobile with 56.9 million euros and Hutchison Drei with 51.9 million euros, RTR data showed. The other operators secured licenses with bids of roughly 5 million euros or less.

The licenses came with a requirement that the three national operators set up at least 303 base stations nationwide as of Dec. 31 next year, rising to 1,000 from June 30, 2022.

The government aims for main traffic routes to have 5G services available by the end of 2023, and to have nationwide 5G coverage by the end of 2025.

Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz earlier did not rule out deploying Huawei equipment in his country’s future 5G networks but said the country would coordinate its decisions with European Union partners.