5G. Vodafone Portugal is surprised that he did not have access to a request for clarification from Brussels

Vodafone Portugal is surprised that it did not have access to the request for clarification from Brussels to Anacom on the coverage conditions for new entrants and national 'roaming' at the 5G auction, this official source told Lusa this Thursday.

Mário Vaz, CEO of Vodafone Portugal

The European Commission asked the National Communications Authority (Anacom) for clarification in October on the coverage conditions for new entrants and national roaming in the 5G auction, according to a letter from DG CONNECT to which Lusa had access this Thursday. .

"We do not know the content of the letter, and we are surprised that we did not have access to its content under the 5G process, which violates the basic principle of transparency," said the official source of the telecommunications operator.

"This news reaffirms the alignment of the questions posed in it with the allegations that are part of Vodafone's initial complaint - now needing slight changes in face of the cosmetic of the reformulation of some of the rules in the final version -, which reflect well how regulation is discriminatory between requirements placed on current operators and new entrants ”, continues the same source.

“Furthermore, this type of discriminatory treatment is not (because it cannot be) properly justified or supported by a regulatory impact study that should have been carried out”, considers Vodafone Portugal.

"Critical decisions by a good regulator involve identifying a problem, presenting resolution scenarios, quantifying impacts of alternatives, assuming a choice and monitoring the consequences of that choice" and, "as a result of the questions asked by DG Connect to Anacom nothing that was done ”.

In the letter sent to the president of Anacom, dated 22 October, the director-general of DG CONNECT (director-general for communications networks, content and technology), Roberto Viola, takes advantage of the “opportunity to request clarifications about it”. conditions of the 5G auction, at the time still in draft decision.

“In particular, it is my understanding that the conditions of the auction project establish a 10-year national 'roaming' obligation with the possibility of extending beyond this term”, says Roberto Viola.

In this sense, "I would like to know how you justify the scope of the national 'roaming' obligation in terms of its duration and possible extension in the light of the principle of proportionality", asks the head of the European Commission.

"In addition, I would also like to know what are the criteria on the basis of which this obligation can be extended, how the possibility of extension guarantees legal certainty for the recipients and beneficiaries of this obligation and the application of Article 52 (2) of the Code European Electronic Communications ”, he continues.

The director-general of DG CONNECT also stresses that the conditions of the auction project "do not provide minimum coverage requirements for potential new entrants to benefit from national roaming".

In any case, he adds, “coverage obligations for new entrants are limited to 25%, to be reached by the end of 2023 and 2025, and are established in relation to highways, main roads and rail networks, but without obligation coverage in relation to the total population ”.

In view of this, the director general of DG CONNECT questions how “it justifies the proposal for a national roaming obligation, in combination with the provisions related to coverage, as proportional to promote effective competition, to ensure the efficient use of spectrum and foster technological innovation and investments ”.

Regarding the 25% discount on the final spectrum price for new entrants (which was in the draft decision), Brussels asks how that number was "calculated".

Although this discount was removed from the final regulation of the 5G auction, released by Anacom on November 5, some of the issues raised by Brussels are at the heart of the conflict between telecommunications operators and the regulator, namely national roaming and obligations coverage for new entrants.

The deadline for submitting applications for the fifth generation (5G) auction ends on Friday, in a process widely criticized by operators and several lawsuits.

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