Italy’s 5G spectrum auction plans were cast into doubt as reports emerged broadcasters had launched a legal appeal against rules for vacating the 700MHz band, while separately the country’s mobile operators were tipped to boycott the whole process.
Within hours of each other, separate news reports emerged on Reuters and Bloomberg suggesting the auction – tipped to raise €2.5 billion for the government – would not be as straightforward as suggested when communications regulator Agcom unveiled plans in May.
Sources quoted by Reuters revealed broadcasters Mediaset and Claro Communication lodged a joint appeal to an Italian court against the rules set out for the upcoming auction, which require them to clear frequencies in the 700MHz band currently used for broadcast services by 2022.
Although vacating the frequencies is subject to EU legislation, any legal action on timelines or other issues would still likely delay the auction while the process is underway, potentially risking a “leading position” in European 5G Italian politicians were extremely vocal about in late 2017.
As revelations of legal action came to light, separate reports in Bloomberg suggested the country’s mobile operators were mulling boycotting the auction altogether.
Its sources said operators believed the starting price was too high and bidding rules too rigid for them to take part as it is currently structured.
Complaints were also raised that mobile operators would be unable to use the 700MHz band – which is said to offer higher grade 5G services – until 2022.
Italy’s planned 5G auction will be organised by the Ministry of Economic Development and will cover the sale of frequencies in 694MHz to 790MHz; 3.6GHz to 3.8GHz; and 26.5GHz to 27.5GHz bands.
It planned to offer two blocks of 80MHz and two of 20MHz in the 3.6GHz to 3.8GHz bands, while five lots of 200MHz will be available in the 26.5GHz to 27.5GHz bands.