LTE tender gets underway; MVNO Zon not participating

29 Nov 2011

According to local press reports, Portugal’s long-rumoured auction for Long Term Evolution (LTE)-suitable frequencies commenced yesterday, with all three incumbent cellcos – Portugal Telecom’s (PT) wireless arm Telecomunicacoes Moveis Nacionais (TMN), Sonaecom’s mobile brand Optimus and Vodafone Portugal – believed to be participating in the process. However, domestic broadband provider Zon Multimedia, which currently operates as a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) under the ‘Zon Mobile’ brand, has dismissed persistent speculation linking it with a bid for LTE spectrum. The cableco, which currently piggybacks on Vodafone’s network, made the admission in a statement sent to the Securities Market Commission (CMVM).

As previously reported by TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, last month national telecoms watchdog ANACOM confirmed that a revised set of auction regulations for the allocation of frequencies in the 450MHz, 800MHz, 900MHz, 1800MHz, 2100MHz and 2600MHz spectrum bands had been published in the country’s Official Gazette, bringing to an end an extended period of consultation. In early 2011 ANACOM signified its intention to hold a spectrum auction for LTE-suitable frequencies as early as June this year, and the watchdog went on to release its draft regulations for public consultation on 17 March. In the event, ANACOM failed to hold the auction in June, and on 13 July 2011 the watchdog issued a significantly altered draft regulation relating to the spectrum auction. The delay was blamed on ‘the number, the merits and complexity of the contributions received under the consultation procedure’. Citing paragraph 5.17 of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) agreed between the Portuguese government, the EU, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the European Central Bank, ANACOM admitted that ‘significant changes’ needed to be made to the existing auction plans, with particular reference to the auction model, the amount of spectrum made available and the obligations imposed on the recipients – with a view to encouraging the participation of new operators.