Czech telco regulator suspends spectrum auction


Watchdog says bids are too high and would likely result in higher costs for consumers.

The Czech telecommunications regulator, or CTU, Friday said it has suspended its auction for mobile radio frequencies to allow the upgrade of current data wireless networks and a possible entry of a new cellular operator into the local market.

Bids for CTU’s frequencies in 800, 1,800 and 2,600 megahertz bandwidths have climbed to above 20 billion koruna ($1.03 billion), or nearly the three-fold of the minimum bid of CZK7.4 billion set at the start of the auction, the regulator said.

At this level bids are too high to allow and would most likely be passed on to local customers, the regulator said, adding that it will revise its tender terms before resuming the auction process.

The suspended bandwidth auction was expected to help speed up the roll-out of new high-speed mobile networks with long-term evolution technology, or LTE, the successor to third-generation, or 3G, mobile data services.

The local market is dominated by Czech units of three major Western European operators: Telefonica SA, Deutsche Telekom AG’s T-Mobile and Vodafone Group PLC.

All three incumbents and PPF Mobile Services AS, a telecommunications firm controlled by the privately-held financial company PPF Group NV, in turn majority owned by Czech financier Petr Kellner, took part in the mobile frequency auction.