Slovakia opens auction for mobile broadband frequencies

Slovakia opened an auction for three blocks of frequencies in the 3400-3600 MHz (3500 MHz) band on Monday, paving the way for mobile broadband service providers to get their hands on new spectrum assets.

The Slovak telecoms regulator said it is offering two 8x5 MHz FDD and TDD blocks and one 4x5 MHz TDD block of nationwide frequencies in the 3,400-3,600 MHz band. The minimum bids are set at €600,000 ($695,535) for the 8x5 MHz blocks and €300,000 for the 4x5 MHz block.

One operator is permitted to bid for a maximum of 40 MHz and the deadline for bids is Feb. 18.

According to a research report from PMR last August, the tender is being carried out because of the expiry of frequency licences. The company noted that frequencies in the 3500 MHz band are currently used for the provision of public communications services and are in the hands of three operators: Slovanet, Swan and GTS Slovakia. The licences of Swan and GTS are due to expire in August 2015.

Swan is one of four companies that acquired LTE spectrum in the 1800 MHz auction that was concluded in January 2014. At the time, Orange Slovakia, Slovak Telekom, O2 Slovakia and Swan were all allocated frequency blocks, paying a total €163.9 million for the frequencies.

While Orange Slovakia, Slovak Telekom and O2 Slovakia are all existing mobile operators, Swan is a new entrant on the mobile market and had planned to launch its 4G network by the start of December last year.

However, the company said it was unable to launch the network on schedule because it had so far failed to achieve national roaming agreements with the other three mobile providers.

Swan claims to have reached the condition under which the three mobile operators are obliged to provide it with national roaming services: the company said in December that its LTE network now covers 20 per cent of the population and is available in more than 40 cities.

The company is now expected to launch LTE services on a limited basis in the first quarter of 2015.

For more:
- see this statement from the Slovak telecoms regulator (in Slovakian)
- see this December release from Swan (in Slovakian)
- see this PMR report

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