Czech Republic may postpone 5G spectrum auction to mid-2020

The Czech Republic may postpone an auction of 5G network frequencies to mid-2020 from a planned start in January, Industry Minister Karel Havlicek said.
Smartphone user in France
The country is planning to conduct the spectrum auction to sell frequencies in the 700 MHz and 3.5 GHz bands in mid-2020 to attract a new operator and boost competition, CTK news agency reported.

Czech mobile operators will have until 2024 to roll out new-generation 5G networks after an auction of frequencies planned for later this year, Prime Minister Andrej Babis said on May 2.

“I expect the spectrum for 5G will be awarded and divided in 2020 after an auction in 2019. These carriers will have until 2024 to roll out 5G for commercial use,” Babis told an international conference on 5G security in Prague.

The government aims to use the 5G spectrum auction to draw a fourth operator to the country to boost competition against incumbents O2 Czech Republic, T-Mobile and Vodafone, Reuters reported earlier.

Nordic Telecom, aiming to become the country’s fourth mobile operator, wants the upcoming auction of 5G frequencies to offer a greater proportion of spectrum for potential newcomers, media reports said.

The Czech Telecommunication Office (CTU) is planning to hold an auction of frequencies in the 700 MHz and 3.5 GHz bands.

CTU earlier said it will reserve a block allocation of 2×10 MHz in the 700 MHz band for new operators, who could also have an option to bid for an additional 5 MHz in case incumbents show little interest. Newcomers will also have a higher limit than incumbents in the 3.5 GHz band.

But Nordic Telecom had said the amount of frequency for newcomers should be higher, and also argued the amount of time required for covering the country should be shortened to ensure the auction is for serious bidders.

A European Commission study on mobile broadband prices in February showed the Czech Republic and Cyprus had the most expensive data prices in Europe.

Nordic Telecom has more than 100,000 customers in the country of 10.7 million and offers high-speed internet through its network, aiming to use the auction to enter the mobile sector.

Operators in the auction will have to commit to giving coverage to cities without high-speed internet, reaching 95 percent within three years. Transportation corridors and 95 percent of towns and cities with populations of more than 50,000 should be covered by 2025.

Incumbents bidding for the lower frequency will also have to commit to providing national roaming for six years to new operators.