The Czech telecoms regulator has started the ball rolling (again) on a planned 4G spectrum auction, against a backdrop of criticism from the country’s existing operators.

In a statement, the watchdog, CTU, said that the auction and assignment of frequency blocks will be held by the end of this year. After payments have been made, permission will be granted for use, which is likely to take place early in 2014.

Earlier this week, Reuters reported that the incumbent operators, Telefonica Czech Republic, T-Mobile Czech Republic, and Vodafone Czech Republic, had expressed concerns about the intention to put aside a large block of spectrum for a new entrant.

In addition to increasing competition in the market, the operators have said that they will be disadvantaged if the new player has to pay less for its licence.

But with the three players already competing aggressively, there have been questions as to how a new entrant will be able to fund its buildout while gaining market share from the existing operators.

The Czech Republic is also not an especially large market.

In March 2013, CTU took the unusual step of cancelling an earlier incarnation of the auction because it felt that bids were escalating too far beyond the reserve prices.

This prompted concern that if the licence prices were too high, it would lead to slower infrastructure rollouts and higher service charge.

In addition to Telefonica, T-Mobile and Vodafone, private equity PPF also participated in the aborted round, and it is believed it will also join the planned process.

The auction will include 800MHz, 1800MHz and 2600MHz allocations.