Portugal: 5G auction deadline ends on Friday with operators contesting rules

The deadline for submitting bids for the 5G auction ends on Friday, in a major challenge from incumbent telecoms operators, who have brought several court cases and complaints to the European Commission against the rules.

On Thursday, the communications authority (Anacom) said that the rules for the auction, besides being adequate and proportional, also aim at overcoming or mitigating some of the disadvantages that new entrants are subject to.

But operators Altice Portugal, NOS and Vodafone Portugal disagree, considering that the rules are discriminatory and have put forward several injunctions, precautionary measures and complaints to the European Commission.

And with the controversy surrounding a technology that promises to revolutionise everyone’s lives – from citizens to businesses – came announcements of disinvestment.

In an interview with Lusa last week, the executive president of NOS, Miguel Almeida, said that he will take part in the 5G auction, but added that he will reduce investment and the cost structure.

The executive chairman of the Vodafone group also said, last week, that he would review investments in the Portuguese market, as part of the 5G auction.

The same position was taken by Altice Portugal, which announced the suspension of ongoing investments, an idea that was reinforced by Altice group shareholders Patrick Drahi (president) and Armando Pereira, who, in a letter to Portugal’s Prime Minister António Costa, criticised the rules of the 5G auction, informing that, given the current regulatory panorama, they are forced to suspend projects.

The Portuguese Association for the Development of Communications (APDC) expressed ‘enormous concern’ over the controversy surrounding 5G, saying that it seems imperative to change the rules of the auction to make them more balanced and equitable for those interested.

The same concern was expressed by COTEC Portugal – the Business Association for Innovation and the Information, Communication and Electronic Technologies pole TICE.PT, which argued that the conflict and litigation surrounding the 5G auction should merit particular attention from parliament.

The Ministry of Infrastructure remains silent until the end of the qualification phase of the auction.

Nowo, owned by the Spanish group Másmóvil, is another of the bidders for the auction of the fifth generation licences.