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Poland gives go-ahead to wrap up 4G auctions

Poland has approved the imposition of a deadline on its ongoing 4G auctions by the country’s regulators.

The regulatory action could see the long-running auctions, which began in February, finally brought to a close next month. The original terms stipulated that the process would only end once bidding was over, and the 4 competing operators have not let up in their battle to obtain spectrum.

However, as the fierce competition led to inflated prices for spectrum, Polish watchdog UKE called for intervention. This resulted in the government proposing to halt the auction after a set time of 115 days. Bids have exceeded initial forecasts by up to 5 times, having already raised PLN7.5 billion ($2 billion).

Andrzej Halicki, head of the ministry of administration and digitisation, said: “the end would be possible in the first 10 days of October. It’s in the interest of Poles to distribute the frequencies.”

However, the proposal to draw an early close to the bidding has been met with outcry from Poland’s operators. In particular, fourth-placed operator Play (P4) has claimed that it could face “tangible damage” of up to $500 million in the event of a premature end to the auctions. Play has suggested that it may take legal action if the proposal goes through.

Fellow operator Plus, owned by Polkomtel, was in agreement, claiming that any change in auction terms went against existing regulation.

Both Plus and Play already hold spectrum that can be used to offer 4G services, providing them with an edge on their rivals Deutsche Telekom and Orange.

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