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Czechs restart LTE auction but reserve spectrum for new entrant

You may remember that in March this year the Czech regulator (the CTU) actually called off the Czech LTE spectrum auction because the bids were too high and the institution was afraid a disastrous bubble was forming - as bubbles used to do around 2000.

But it was more than the regulator saving the industry from itself. The fact was that the bidding - which had gone over 20 billion Crowns - appeared to be a concerted effort by the big three in the Czech Republic - Telefonica, T-Mobile and Vodafone - to keep out disruptive challengers.

Not only that, but the size of the bids indicated that Czech users were going to be footing the bill in high mobile prices forever and a day. At the very least the excessive bidding was likely to slow network investment, the CTU considered (see - "Excessive bids" cause Czech regulator to suspend 4G spectrum auction).

Now the regulator has decided to keep some valuable 800MHz spectrum for a challenger network and that has caused a howl of outrage from the big three who say they'll be disadvantaged by a new entrant getting spectrum at a discount. And, they say, it will dangerously increase competition. Reports say Telefonica has already filed a lawsuit against the regulator alleging the new auction is unfair.

But now, in a further twist, the expected fourth bidder (as it was in March), PPF Mobile, has said conditions preventing it from merging with another player within 15 years , should it win some spectrum means it's no longer interested in bidding. Who'd be a regulator?

The restarted auction will involve the 800MHz, 1800MHz and 2600MHz frequencies and will be completed by the end of 2013. It's expected the winners will be able to deploy in early 2014.

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