Polish regulator ready to annul 2007 auction result

27 Jan 2017

Poland’s Office of Electronic Communications (UKE) has reportedly initiated a procedure to annul the results of a sale of frequencies in the 1800MHz band carried out in 2007. In October that year CenterNet bid PLN128 million (USD31 million at current exchange rates) for frequencies in the 1710MHz-1730MHz band, but declined the paired band between 1805MHz and 1825MHz. This was later won in a separate tender process by Tolpis, a joint venture between Italian ISP Eutalia and Telekomunikacja Kolejowa, which agreed to pay PLN102 million. The start-up subsequently took on the name Mobyland before being bought by another domestic new entrant, Aero2.

Both CenterNet and Aero2 are now part of the Cyfrowy Polsat group, which also includes mobile network operator (MNO) Polkomtel. In August 2009 Mobyland and CenterNet signed a letter of intent to share usage of their 1700MHz/1800MHz spectrum for rolling out LTE services, going on to launch Poland’s first 4G service in September 2010.

At the time of the auction, the outcome was disputed in court by second-placed bidder T-Mobile Poland (then known as PTC). In July 2009 the Warsaw Administrative Court ruled that the participants in the original October 2007 tender were not treated equally and that the result should be annulled. UKE launched a successful appeal, but T-Mobile continued its legal battle.

While UKE now appears to be ready to cancel the auction result, according to a report from Telko.in the watchdog is unlikely to be looking to force Aero2/CenterNet to hand back its spectrum or shut down its LTE network. The report suggests that UKE will instead negotiate with all parties involved to settle this and other separate disputes, including the result of the 2015 tender for 800MHz/2600MHz 4G spectrum auction, the result of which has also caused some controversy.