December 20, 2018 / 3:16 PM / a month ago

Austria prepares for second round of 5G auctions

VIENNA, Dec 20 (Reuters) - Austria’s telecoms regulator, RTR, invited interested parties to discuss the conditions and targets of its second auction of 5G licences on Thursday, weeks before the first auction is scheduled to start.

In contrast to Austria’s first 5G auction of the 3.4 to 3.8 GHz band, which will mainly speed up data services in densely populated areas and is scheduled for February, the 2020 licences will not be divided among regions but be awarded nationwide.

The tender for the 700, 1,500 and 2,100 Mhz bands, which will provide data rates needed for autonomous driving, will be published next autumn and the auction is planned for the first quarter of 2020, RTR said on Thursday.

Austria, a laggard in the European Union for fast broadband connections, wants to become a 5G pioneer in Europe. It is among the first in the European Union to auction the licences.

“With the public consultation... we want to ensure that Austrians are provided with extensive mobile broadband internet, that roads are fit for automated driving and that competition remains sustainable,” said RTR chief Johannes Gungl.

The country’s economic power is largely based on medium-sized enterprises and highly specialised small businesses with many of them, including chip supplier AMS, emissions test specialist AVL List and fire truck maker Rosenbauer, market leaders in their niches.

The government wants to use 5G to help those businesses connect machines, production sites and cars. It aims for main traffic routes to have 5G services available by the end of 2023, and to have “virtually nationwide” 5G coverage by the end of 2025.

The regulator said it also aimed to attract new players from other areas of business. “We are always happy about newcomers who stimulate the market,” Gungl said.

Industry experts have said that energy providers, which provide the basis for data delivery, or carmakers, whose electric vehicles will rely on the services, would be plausible contenders. Even finance investors could be interested, they said. (Reporting by Kirsti Knolle; Editing by Elaine Hardcastle)

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