September 23, 2019 / 1:28 PM / a month ago

New 5G licenses in Austria to be tied to rural rollout

VIENNA (Reuters) - Austria’s telecoms regulator RTR said on Monday bidders in the second auction of 5G licenses will have to commit to roll out fast internet in rural areas, aiming to ensure access for every community in the largely rural and mountainous country.

FILE PHOTO: Computer network equipment is seen in a server room in Vienna, Austria, October 25, 2018. REUTERS/Heinz-Peter Bader/File Photo

The auction for 700, 1,500 and 2,100 Mhz bands, which will provide data rates needed for autonomous driving and to connect machines and production sites, is planned for spring 2020, RTR chief Klaus Steinmaurer told a news conference in Vienna.

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, the 2020 licenses will not be divided among regions but be awarded nationwide.

To encourage bidders to connect as many communities as possible, the regulator plans to attach requirements and incentives to the allocation of the frequencies.

New licenses will only be granted under the condition that the acquirer will provide fast internet for a certain number of communities that are currently poorly supplied. The buyer can supply more communities than required for a discount on the purchase price depending on the number of extra communities.

Potential bidders are invited to discuss the conditions and targets until Oct. 21, Steinmaurer said.

Austria’s three major mobile network providers, which all bought licenses in the first round, are A1 Telekom Austria, which is controlled by Mexican tycoon Carlos Slim and the Austrian state, Deutsche Telekom’s Magenta Telekom and Chinese Hutchison’s Drei Austria.

Deutsche Telekom has said it would invest a total of 1 billion euros until 2021 to build its 5G network in Austria.

A1 Group, in which the state holds 28.4 percent, has said it would cooperate closely with state-controlled firms including rail company OeBB, motorway operator Asfinag and residential property group BIG in expanding and upgrading networks to be fast and keep costs low.

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

The government 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.

Reporting by Kirsti Knolle; editing by David Evans

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