STORY UPDATED WITH INFORMATION FROM CZECH REGULATOR: CTU, the Czech telecoms regulator, intends to offer 800MHz spectrum exclusively to new operators in a redesigned multi-band auction.
Under new auction rules, a block of 2x10MHz in the 800MHz band is reserved for a new player. The 1800MHz block originally reserved for a new operator is increased from 2×15.6MHZ to 2×15.8MHz.
A new concept of the “minimum required portfolio” is also introduced, whereby the bidder defines the minimum amount of spectrum thought worthy to make an offer.
“By proposing these tender conditions, CTU supports the motivation for a new operator to come to the market, while maintaining the limit on the amount of spectrum that can be obtained by new operator,” said Pavel Dvorak, chairman of CTU, in a statement.
According to CTU’s estimates, the one-off extra income to the exchequer from the auction will be “in the order of billions of crowns”. Some additional income will be drawn from annual licence fees once networks are up and running.
Last month, CTU took the highly unusual step of scrapping the auction of wireless frequencies because bidding had become too frenzied.
The regulator had set a minimum price of CZK7.4 billion ($375 million) for the three frequency bands under the hammer – 800MHz, 1800MHz and 2.6GHz – but overall bidding climbed to CZK20 billion, prompting the regulator to pull the plug.
CTU feared if spectrum costs were too high, customers would suffer through higher service charges and the possible slowdown of 4G network rollouts.
The regulator’s period of consulting with potential bidders on the new auction rules is to last until 8 May.
One potential beneficiary is PPF, one of the largest private equity firms in Central and Eastern Europe, looking to make an entry into the Czech mobile market. PPF was part of the auction that was halted last month.