O2 announces 800MHz, 1800MHz spectrum win; no official word from regulator yet

7 Jan 2014

Telefonica O2 Slovakia has announced that it won mobile spectrum licences in the 800MHz (790MHz-862MHz) digital dividend and 1800MHz bands in the 4G auction held last month, namely Block A1.5 and A1.6 (2×10MHz in the 800MHz band) and Block B.6 (2×0.6MHz in the 1800MHz band). The cellco, which was recently acquired by Czech-led investment group PPF, said it will roll out a national LTE network utilising the rural and in-building advantages of the 800MHz band whilst also building out its existing 1800MHz LTE coverage, currently restricted to a handful of villages which have served as a 4G testbed for the operator. The small portion of new 1800MHz frequencies is assumed to be the maximum allowed under auction rules enforcing a spectrum cap in the band applied to the three incumbent network operators including O2’s larger rivals Slovak Telekom and Orange. O2 Slovakia paid a total price for its new frequencies of EUR40.30 million (USD54.75 million), which it said it believed was ‘reasonable’ in its press release. Local website eTrend notes that the base bidding price for these frequencies was USD38.3 million.

Following an auction in the 800MHz, 1800MHz and 2600MHz bands held by the Telecommunications Office of the Slovak Republic (TU SR), it has been reported all three mobile incumbents won frequencies as expected, potentially alongside a new entrant, but no official announcement from the regulator is forthcoming until a validation period of at least one month expires. In the meantime, a new combined regulator, the Office for Electronic Communications and Postal Services, was officially formed under law on 1 January 2014, to succeed the TU SR. Ladislav Mikus, president of the TU SR, assumed the temporary role of the head of the new regulatory body, ahead of the official selection of a chairman, which is set to be carried out later this month according to legislation.