5G rule changes in Poland and the Czech Republic cause controversy

5G rule changes in Poland and the Czech Republic cause controversy

As might be expected, the continuing drive to get 5G auctions and rollouts under way is throwing up a number of controversies. The latest policy debates have taken place in Poland and the Czech Republic.

Urzad Komunikacji Elektronicznej (UKE), Poland’s Office of Electronic Communications, has launched its second round of consultation for the planned award of 5G spectrum in the 3400MHz-3800MHz band. This award is due to take place later this year.

However, requests from operators that the reserve price be lowered from about $116 million to approximately 55 percent of that sum (using reserve prices in a number of other countries as a guideline) have been ignored.

The regulator has also retained the limit of one 80MHz block per bidder. This could cause problems if one of the country’s four main operators were to pull out from the bidding, potentially leaving a block unsold.

To add to the operators' problems, they are also being asked to speed up deployment (meaning that by the end of 2025 700 base stations should be deployed instead of 500).

The Czech Republic, however, has seen even greater controversy in the form, allegedly, of a resignation, when telecoms regulator Jaromir Novak announced (publishing the letter on Twitter, apparently) his departure, over 5G auction plans.

The final straw appears to have been last-minute government changes to the Czech Telecommunication Office’s sale of 5G-suitable frequencies.

The sale of frequencies in the 700MHz and 3.5GHz bands via auction was originally slated for this month. However, the regulator has delayed the process with new roaming conditions.

Novak took issue with the government’s emphasis on national roaming, which would allow consumers to switch between providers in the 3.5GHz band. He argued that the frequency cannot be used across the whole country.

The government (or, more precisely, industry minister Karel Havlicek) insisted that the rule change is needed to attract bidders and, in a rather surprising postscript, added that Novak had in fact been fired and had not resigned.

With a lot riding on getting 5G auctions and rollouts right, these surely won’t be the last controversies in these countries – and many others.

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