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Legal proceedings may delay 5G rollout in Bulgaria - regulator

Mon 15th March, 2021 10:31am
SOFIA, March 15 (Reuters) - Bulgaria's telecoms operator
said it would hold a meeting on Monday to seek ways to boost the
commercial rollout of 5G wireless networks after telecoms
operator Vivacom contested in court its decision for allocating
three 5G licences.    
    The Communication Regulation Commission (CRC) decided to
close a 5G auction and grant each of the country's three major
telecoms operators a licence in the 3.6 GHz spectrum without 
competition after reviewing their applications for the process.
    Bulgaria's leading telecoms firm Vivacom, controlled by
United Group, has started legal proceedings against the way the
licences were assigned, a court filing showed. Legal proceedings
could take months or even years, which would seriously delay the
development of 5G networks in the Balkan country.
    "We will hold a meeting and seek ways to move forward
because it is in the national interest to speed up the process,
if it is possible. If not, it will be left in the hands of the
court," CRC head Ivan Dimitrov told Reuters.
    Dimitrov said he expects the regulator to come up with a
solution, pointing out that even if it issues the frequencies
licences by the end of the week they cannot be enforced before a
Bulgarian court rules on Vivacom's complaint.
    He declined to say what the options to speed up the process
could involve. Two industry sources familiar with the situation
said a way out might be to hold a new auction for the licences.
    Vivacom, A1, part of Austria's A1 Group controlled by
Mexico's America Movil  AMXL.MX  and Telenor Bulgaria, owned by
Czech investment group PPF, said they will comment on the
development later on Monday.   
    The CRC initially planned to auction three 20-year licences
each with an initial price of 4 million levs ($2.44 million),
but reviewed its decision on March 10 after examining the
    Vivacom was the only company that expressed interest in
getting the licence for the 3,500-3,600 MHz band, so the
regulator said that with only one bidder there should not be an
auction for this licence.
    It took Vivacom out of the auction for the other two
permits, which left A1 as the sole bidder for the licence in the
3,600-3,700 MHz band and Telenor Bulgaria for the 3,700-3,800
MHz band.    
($1 = 1.6390 leva)

 (Reporting by Tsvetelia Tsolova, editing by Ed Osmond)
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