CTU awards 4G spectrum to Czech incumbents, but newcomers miss out

20 Nov 2013

National regulator the Czech Telecommunication Office (CTU) yesterday issued a press release confirming that the country’s three incumbent mobile network operators – Telefonica O2 CR, T-Mobile Czech Republic and Vodafone Czech Republic – each secured frequencies allowing them to offer fourth-generation (4G) Long Term Evolution (LTE) services in the country. However, the tender failed in its primary task of bringing new competition to the market as two would-be newcomers – Revolution Mobile, previously a subsidiary of the financial group PPF, and Sazka Communications (formerly known as Tasciane), which is understood to be controlled by local entrepreneur Karel Komarek’s KKCG Group – failed to take frequencies, despite taking part.

The industry watchdog had seen the auction as the ideal vehicle to bring in much needed competition to a sector long dominated by the three big hitters. In its statement yesterday though, it noted that: ‘Despite the fact the fact that CTU created ideal conditions for a third operator to enter the market, both new interested parties, in the end, decided not to join the Czech mobile market’. TeleGeography notes that in the run-up to the auction, PPF agreed a deal to acquire control of one of the mobile incumbents, Telefonica O2 CR, subject to European Commission (EC) approval.

The CTU confirmed that Telefonica O2 CR and T-Mobile CR each purchased two 800MHz blocks of spectrum, with the former paying CZK2.386 billion (USD119.2 million) for two ‘A2’ blocks, and T-Mobile paying CZK2.231 billion for blocks in ‘A1’ and ‘A2’. Meanwhile, Vodafone CR bought one 800MHz block of ‘A3’ spectrum for CZK2.664 billion, in a tender that yielded a total of CZK8.529 billion for state coffers to support the 2014 budget. Each of the three companies also acquired part of the so-called ‘B2’ block of spectrum in the 1,800MHz band, and four blocks in the 2,600MHz FDD band, the watchdog added.