Mobile network operators (MNOs) in the Czech Republic will be given until 2024 to roll out fifth-generation networks, pending completion of the government’s auction of 5G-suitable frequencies planned for later this year, reports Radio Praha, citing the country’s prime minister Andrej Babis as saying. Speaking at a conference on 5G security in the capital Prague, Babis said: ‘I expect the spectrum for 5G will be awarded and divided in 2020 after an auction in 2019. These carriers will have until 2024 to roll out 5G for commercial use’. The PM said he expects the switch to a new generation of advanced wireless technology to be ‘even more revolutionary than the onset of mobile phones’, stimulating economic growth, innovation and overall prosperity in the country. However, and in reference to recent concerns in other countries involving Chinese vendors, he also stressed the importance of ensuring the new network system’s security.
As previously reported by CommsUpdate, in February this year the Czech regulator, the Czech Telecommunication Office (Cesky telekomunikacni urad, CTU), revealed its intention to kick off the auction of 5G-suitable frequencies in early November 2019, seeking to attract bids from a new fourth MNO to tackle the long-standing problem of high mobile rates in the country. The regulator plans to auction off blocks of spectrum in the 700MHz and 3.4GHz bands and in an attempt to smooth the way for a new entrant it is reserving one block in the 700MHz band for newcomers, preventing existing MNOs from driving up prices. It will also put in place stipulations to protect the newcomer in the set-up phase, including the requirement that MNOs allow it access to their networks while building its own, provided the entrant initially covers 10% of the population itself.