Altice to suspend Portuguese investment in protest against 5G auction rules

12 Nov 2020

Altice Portugal, which operates full-service telecoms provider MEO, has declared its intention to suspend a number of ongoing investment projects as a result of ‘the regulator’s disastrous decisions’ regarding the planned 5G auction. The comments were made by administrator Joao Zuquete da Silva, who told the Lusa News Agency: ‘The regulation of the 5G auction is a fallacy, prepared so that the National Communications Authority (Autoridade Nacional de Comunicacoes, ANACOM) can comply with a set of statistical indicators, which in no way serve the people, the economy, the country.’

The watchdog unveiled its 5G auction rules last week, prompting anger from incumbent operators MEO, Vodafone and Nos. One of the most contentious rules concerns ANACOM’s desire to encourage new market entrants to participate in the bidding process, by setting aside an allocation of spectrum (900MHz/1800MHz) and granting newcomers nationwide roaming access for a period of ten years. In addition, new bidders will benefit from ‘differentiated coverage obligations’. Mr Zuquete da Silva complained that the projected set-up paves the way for ‘parasitic investment operators’ to capitalise on the work of companies that have been investing in the Portuguese economy for several decades.

The sale is earmarked to take place in the first quarter of 2021 and will comprise spectrum in the 700MHz, 900MHz, 1800MHz, 2100MHz, 2.6GHz and 3.6GHz bands. Buoyed by the auction rules, Nowo – the Portuguese cableco owned by Grupo MASMOVIL – has reportedly stated its intention to participate in the 5G bidding process.