Germany’s communications regulator told the country’s government that imposing strict national roaming requirements on operators could delay a 5G auction and potentially endanger the whole process, Reuters reported.

In a letter said to have been sent to ministers, regulator Bundesnetzagentur warned rumoured plans to change its 5G auction terms to include a strict requirement for national roaming would place an unreasonable burden on operators.

The regulator finalised its auction terms in late November, including a number of controversial measures. Its comments on the divisive national roaming policy – which would require opening networks to ensure blanket coverage in rural areas – were somewhat vague.

Without detailing specific obligations, it noted there was an expectation operators would work together to provide coverage in less economically viable regions. In an earlier statement, Bundesnetzagentur said it would step in as a “referee” where agreements could not be reached.

However, the government is reportedly keen to impose mandatory national roaming regulations when allocating spectrum for 5G services.

Operators, industry bodies and other stakeholders have been at loggerheads with regulators throughout the process on a range of issues from coverage targets to relaxed rules for a new entrant.

Following the publication of the final draft policy, the GSMA said the conditions were unrealistic and could “poison” 5G network rollout in the country.

Operators have also made damning statements about the rules. Vodafone Germany threatened legal action, Deutsche Telekom said the process would fail “due to bureaucratic obstacles and ignores the fundamentals of physics.”

A Telefonica Germany spokesperson told Mobile World Live the rules were a “dubious compromise between the partially conflicting interests of all parties involved,” adding: “the regulations still contain legal ambiguities and barriers to investment.”