Austria’s three established mobile network operators were quick to trumpet their 5G ambitions after each secured 5G-specific spectrum during the country’s recent auction process. However, that process also introduced new players into the space, much to the consternation of those incumbent operators.
The most vocal was Hutchison Drei Austria, which complained that the Austrian mobile market will be more competitive. A1 Telekom Austria and T-Mobile Austria are the other two incumbent operators. Four new organizations secured spectrum licenses in the auction, including MASS Response, LIWEST, Salzburg AG, and Holding Graz.
Hutchison Drei is particularly sensitive to the idea of new competitors in 5G as it successfully reduced the number of operators in Austria from four to three when it acquired Orange Austria in 2013. That deal concluded just before the European Commission clamped down on in-market consolidation of mobile operators.
The carrier also argued that awarding spectrum at regional level means it cannot be used as efficiently and claimed that “weaknesses” in the auction design drove up prices in some regions to unnecessarily high levels.
The financial is unlikely to receive a sympathetic response. The $213 million raised by Austria through the auction process is a drop in the ocean compared to the eye-watering $7.3 billion paid by Italian operators. Austria plans to auction more 5G spectrum in early 2020.
Johannes Gungl, managing director of Austria’s telecom regulator RTR, said the regulator’s primary objective is to support a quick roll out of 5G networks. He added that the country is a frontrunner on the continent due to its fast award process and the amount of spectrum offered to carriers.
Austria 5G plans
T-Mobile said it would launch 25 5G sites this month. The operator also signaled plans to launch 5G fixed wireless access (FWA) services to its first customers “in a few weeks,” with a firm focus on offering fixed broadband replacement services in rural areas. T-Mobile Austria and Huawei started a 5G trial in Innsbruck early last year.