Vodafone’s Czech unit joins Telefonica in challenging LTE auction


Mobile operator calls for terms of spectrum auction to be changed.

The Czech unit of Vodafone Plc Friday said it filed a motion to halt the Czech telecommunication regulator’s upcoming auction for frequencies to carry high-speed wireless services, saying the terms and conditions of the auction are flawed.

“We don’t consider it possible that the current state of the LTE auction will continue in a fair manner and have a better outcome than the previous attempt,” said Marketa Kuklova, spokeswoman for the local Vodafone unit.

Vodafone is asking the regulator to adjusts the terms of the auction and to hold a new one at a later date.

“We expected legal steps against the auction,” Jaromir Novak, chairman of the regulator, said in a statement. “At such a large tender even abroad is isn’t unusual that operators challenge conditions of the auction in court.”

The regulator plans to auction frequencies in the 800 megahertz band in the second half of November, but has set roughly one third of available frequencies aside for a hoped-for fourth operator.

That leaves room in the lucrative range only for two of the three current operators of mobile services.

Earlier this year the regulator started its first auction for the frequencies, but was forced to cancel it after bids rose to what it deemed to be unacceptable levels.

In that auction, bidders could make offers and drive prices higher, but had the option of pull out of the auction at any time with no penalty even after placing bids.

After an outcry from market participants, the regulator dropped that option from the planned second auction.

Earlier this month the Czech unit of Spain’s Telefonica SA also lodged a legal challenge to the regulator’s action terms.

The third current operator is a unit of T-Mobile, the mobile arm of Germany’s Deutsche Telekom AG.

There are two other bidders in the auction, Revolution Mobile and Sazka Telecommunications, both owned by Czech privately-held financial companies.