Reports from Italy suggest that the Communications Regulatory Authority (Autorita per le Garanzie nelle Comunicazioni, Agcom) could face a legal challenge if it goes ahead with a plan to extend 3.5GHz (3.4GHz-3.6GHz) wireless broadband licences for a further six years, to 2029. As reported by CommsUpdate in October, the renewals are already being looked at by a group of politicians who have queried why licences in the 3.5GHz band would be extended when concessions in the 3.7GHz range (3.6GHz-3.8GHz) were recently sold at auction and raised EUR4.35 billion (USD4.93 billion).
CorCom writes that French-owned firm Iliad is leading the telco challenge against the renewals, threatening legal action in the regional court (Tribunale Amministrativo Regionale, TAR) if Agcom proceeds with its plan. Iliad was one of five companies that bid a total of EUR6.55 billion in the government’s auction of 5G-capable spectrum in the 700MHz, 3.7GHz and 26GHz bands, which ended in early October.
The fixed-wireless concessions in the 3.5GHz range were awarded in 2008 and are held by GO internet, Tiscali, Linkem, Mandarin and Telecom Italia (TIM). They are due to expire in 2023 but earlier this year it emerged that licensees had approached Agcom to extend the permits for a further six years. CorCom reports that TIM’s licence is the only one which would not be extended due to competition concerns.
Swiss-owned ISP Fastweb has offered to acquire the fixed-wireless business of Tiscali for EUR150 million, but this deal could be derailed if Tiscali’s licence is not extended.