Elisa Estonia has lodged a complaint with the country’s Consumer Protection and Technical Regulatory Authority (TTJA) over the distribution of 5G licences, arguing that its rival Tele2 has obtained additional 2300MHz bandwidth without having to participate in the ongoing auctions.
As reported by EER News, Tele2 acquired ST Networks in 2006 and Televorgu AS in 2010, obtaining bandwidth in the process. Elisa’s complaint stems from the fact that in 2017, the TTJA altered the frequencies of this holding to the 2300MHz band. Elisa’s technology chief Toomas Polli claimed that the move amounted to “a gift of millions of Euros…to a private company” that affords Tele2 an “unfair” advantage.
However, the TTJA has rejected Elisa’s complaint, noting that the 2017 amendment was made “due to security considerations and to free up frequencies used by the defence sector”, and that it “made no difference in overall bandwidth owned.”
The regulator’s communications manager Oliver Gailan said: “The TTJA considers Elisa's resentment unjustified, as the permits granted to Tele2 have been acquired legally.” He added that Elisa currently has greater frequency resources than its rivals.
Elisa countered that it did not obtain this advantage for free, shelling out over €7.2 million for a 3.6GHz block during the first round of Estonia’s 5G spectrum auctions in May. This was significantly higher than the reserve price, as Elisa faced fierce competition from rivals Bite, Telia and indeed Tele2.
Polli stated: “We cannot in any way approve of a situation where a large frequency block is first created for one operator free of charge, and only the leftover scraps are put to the consultation and public auction that determines the use of the frequency band.” He noted that the TTJA had also expanded the scope of use for the 2300MHz band in a way that benefited Tele2.
Gailan dismissed this allegation however, saying: “The statement that in the meantime the conditions have been changed in favour of Tele2 is not true. The frequency area 2300MHz was divided into three ranges with nationwide use already in 2010.”
Tele2 is participating in the second round of bidding which is currently underway; if it loses out this time, it will have a further opportunity to acquire spectrum in the third round.