APEK confirms 4G bids due by February, auction in March

17 Dec 2013

Slovenia’s Agency for Post and Electronic Communications (APEK) has confirmed its timetable for conducting the country’s upcoming 4G multi-band simultaneous licence auction of 800MHz, 900MHz, 1800MHz, 2100MHz and 2600MHz spectrum. On APEK’s website the watchdog reaffirmed that it will publish the call for tender this month – having missed a previously mooted date of 13 December whilst awaiting adoption of requisite legislation – ahead of a February 2014 deadline for accepting bids, and the auction to take place the month after – with 25 March the previously slated date for bidding to commence. Frequency licences will be issued before the end of June 2014. TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database notes that in September 2013 Slovenia’s national frequency allocation plan entered force allowing technology- and service-neutral operations in all relevant bands, and the following month a requisite amendment to the country’s Law on Electronic Communications was sent to parliament under an ‘urgency procedure’ prompted by the threat of a fine from the European Commission (EC) for not issuing 800MHz mobile broadband frequencies earlier. The amendment allows the maximum licence duration to be extended from the existing 15 years to 20 years, amongst other provisions including the legal framework for a Combinatorial Clock Auction (CCA), which was deemed the most appropriate auction method for simultaneous multi-band licence allocations while also adjudged the method most likely to achieve frequency prices ‘closest to real market price’, according to the wording of the parliamentary bill. APEK confirmed in its latest statement on 14 December that it will publish the call for tender documents once the new legislation has been adopted via publication in the Official Gazette – which it expects this week.

Elsewhere in its statement, APEK noted that existing Slovenian mobile network operators acquiring 800MHz and/or 900MHz licences must achieve 25% population coverage in one year, 50% in two years and 75% in three years (an alteration from APEK’s September 2013 draft conditions which proposed 40% in three years and 70% in five years). New market entrants would be subject to 800MHz/900MHz coverage stipulations of 25% in two years, 50% in three years and 75% in five years. In addition, APEK’s previously released licensing conditions specified one block of 800MHz frequencies which carries the condition of providing 95% population coverage in three years with mobile and/or fixed wireless broadband services capable of 10Mbps (outdoor coverage) data speeds – although an operator may use any combination of the spectrum bands assigned to it to achieve this target; simultaneously, the operator assigned the specified 800MHz block must also provide coverage of a specific list of around 300 rural settlements/areas (with coverage of 75% of these listed areas within three years). For 1800MHz and 2600MHz licensees, APEK’s minimum population coverage targets are 25% in three years and 40% within five (unchanged from its September 2013 draft conditions). The starting prices for the bands add up to more than EUR100 million (USD137.5 million), whilst state estimates have said that the auction could yield up to a maximum of EUR200 million.