Polish mobile operator Polkomtel, which is part of the Cyfrowy Polsat group and operates under the ‘Plus’ brand, has withdrawn from the government’s auction of 800MHz wireless spectrum. The firm issued a statement to explain its decision, saying that it was pulling out of the sale on competition grounds. Polkomtel said it believes that the best way to utilise 800MHz spectrum is for operators to collaborate and share their spectrum to build either one or two national networks.
Six companies entered the bidding for the auction of five blocks of 800MHz frequencies which is being run alongside a sale of 14 blocks of 2600MHz spectrum; both bands can be used for 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) technology. The bidders are: Polkomtel, Orange, T-Mobile, P4/Play, Hubb Investments (a subsidiary of Emitel) and NetNet, which is owned by a business partner of Polsat shareholder Zygmunt Solorz-Zak. Firms can buy up to two blocks at 800MHz and up to four blocks at 2600MHz. The five 800MHz blocks have so far attracted bids totalling PLN1.75 billion (USD458 million), while the 2600MHz frequencies have bids adding up to around PLN385 million.
Polkomtel says Orange and T-Mobile already share 2G, 3G and 4G infrastructure and would be likely to pool their 800MHz resources, meaning other operators in the same band would be at an immediate disadvantage in terms of available bandwidth. It has therefore retired from the sale and is requesting an 800MHz network sharing pact with P4, Hubb and NetNet.