Reports from last week that Turkey’s president, Tayyip Erdogan, was urging the country to go straight to ‘5G’ and not bother with 4G have not gone away. A government minister, according to a local newspaper, said cancellation of an upcoming 4G auction was being “discussed” and “evaluated”.

Turkey’s Information and Communication Technologies Agency had previously scheduled 26 May to start an auction of spectrum, including 800MHz airwaves, which would enable operators to launch the country’s first commercial 4G services.

The call to go straight to 5G by a national government head is, needless to say, highly unusual, not least because Erdogan apparently envisages the technology’s adoption within two years.

Not only has 5G still to be defined by the mobile industry, but it’s generally believed that 5G technology will not be commercially available until 2020.

Even so, Erdogan’s postion appears to be taken seriously – at least publicly.

“The president’s remarks were meant to be instructions,” said customs and trade minister Nurettin Canikli, according to the HaberTurk Daily and cited by Reuters. “He is the semi-executive president, and the head of the executive branch. We should pay attention to what he says.”

Operators, however, are diplomatically refraining from confronting Erdogan on his apparent 5G stance, hoping perhaps that the whole thing will blow over.

In statement to the local press, and seen by Mobile World Live, Turkcell – the country’s largest mobile operator – simply gave its support to both 4G and the development of 5G.

“Over the past few years, we have been keeping our 4G readiness levels very high with the tests that we have carried out regarding various aspects of this technology,” said the operator. It added that it would maintain its “leadership in introducing the newest mobile communication technologies in 5G, just as we have done so far with all other network technology developments”.

Turk Telecom, owners of Avea – Turkey’s smallest network operator – released a similar positioning statement last week.

“We will continue to be the driving force behind every next-generation technology that will help develop the country,” said CEO Rami Aslan.

Mobile World Live asked for comment from Vodafone Turkey but, at the time of going to press, had not received a response.