This Friday, the subject of 5G development in Portugal returns to Parliament, where the proposals presented by the main parties will be debated: PSD, PCP, Bloco de Esquerda and CDS-PP.
The discussion takes place at a time when Anacom has not yet published the final regulation for the auction of frequencies, and there is no date for the start of the process. The COVID-19 pandemic slid the entire calendar and it is already assumed that the frequency allocation only happens in 2021, which means that Portugal does not meet the goals defined by the European Union which indicate that each country should have at least one city with 5G still in 2020.
Operators ask for changes in priorities, as defended by Alexandre Fonseca last week, and the Government wants cooperation and a revision of the regulation, but there is still no green light on how the process will move forward. Regulation that is causing embarrassment to the main operators, and in the case of Vodafone, it may not even participate in the auction, if Anacom keeps the rules of the game as they are known so far.
Regarding the proposals presented by the main parties, PSD, PCP, CDS-PP and Bloco de Esquerda, there are some divergences in the ideas, but there is a harmony in the investment in the interior and less favored territories. Get to know in detail the party proposals that will be discussed in Parliament.
PSD wants incentives for operators to invest in the interior and sparsely populated territories
In the document that the PSD submitted to Parliament, the measures give priority to the implementation of 5G networks, particularly in territories with low population density. “It is important to ensure equal access conditions for populations and companies, and to maintain the cohesion of the territory, which is so often subordinate, without accentuating territorial divides, the technological gap and with it the inequalities between national citizens”, they highlight the deputies of the PSD parliamentary bench, reinforcing that the territories that are excluded from 5G are no longer attractive to live and work, at the risk of becoming depopulated.
For the PSD, incentives should be given to operators that give priority to investments in territories of low population density.
The party demonstrates serious concerns between the “manifest disarticulation” between the Government and Anacom with regard to the development and completion of the process for allocating licenses for 5G. In its proposal, in order for the timetable not to suffer any further delays, the Government should explore the experience of the remaining Member States that are more advanced in the process.
PCP wants to stimulate fair competition and a public and universal telecommunications service in Portugal
The PCP defends a public and universal telecommunications service in Portugal. The Communist Party stresses that with the privatization of PT, the State has handed over to private economic groups all operational activity, limiting itself to regulating, stimulating, financing and guaranteeing “fair competition” between private operators. The party defends that this model, stimulated by the European Union, does not serve the national interest, but only the great economic groups, that “many confuse with the national interest”.
As a consequence of this policy, it points to the lack of a universal access plan, highlighting the regions excluded from access to electronic communications. In addition to the high price that the Portuguese are paying for services.
Against this background, the PCP proposes to invest in the reconstruction of the public operator and in a public telecommunications service that guarantees a quality and economically accessible offer in communications. With this, the auction of the right to use the public domain of the spectrum is canceled, with public management and exploitation, developing, when necessary, partnerships with the private sector, but without giving up control and management of the referred networks.
In this sense, the party wants a Universal Electronic Communications Service, with price reduction targets and total coverage of the national population within two years for mobile voice communications and mobile broadband services at 100 Mbps for 98% of the territory, the entire national rail network and road IP.
Left Block that analyze 4G errors and apply to 5G, but with a 100% public exploitation of the telecommunications network
The Bloco de Esquerda, in its proposal, also advocates a public and universal telecommunications service in Portugal. The party asks that, before thinking about the new auction again, and accusing the Government of siding with operators and in confrontation with the regulator, one should look at the current situation regarding the use of the 4G spectrum and record the inherent flaws. According to the party, the lack of coverage in several municipalities and parishes in the country, especially in the interior; the highest prices in Europe; high loyalty rates; and the loss to the State in its strategic needs are some points noted.
BE believes that if this situation continues, 5G will bring further problems, whether in terms of prices, coverage of the national network and the exclusion of countless communities from accessing the network. And since the rights to use the spectrum through the auction will dictate its use over the next 20 years, the blockers argue that there should be a public and universal telecommunications service in the country, that is, a 100% public operator with the control and management of networks.
CDS-PP calls for revision of rules within the context of the pandemic
The CDS highlights the development of telecommunications as the engine of the digitalization of the economy, and it is important to make them more accessible throughout the Portuguese territory. “The experience of the last two decades shows that an enormous investment and network coverage effort has been made by operators. This effort was made essentially on the coast of the country and in large urban centers, and it is evident to everyone that it is in the interior of the country that there are major network difficulties, which compromises competition and the best price / service to the consumer “, highlights the party in the proposed document.
In its recommendations, the CDS asks to be reevaluated the new macroeconomic context in terms of COVID-19, with rules, responsibilities and prices being considered and streamlined, both for market operators and new entrants. Like the other parties, operators should be encouraged to give priority to investments made in the interior of the country, especially where there are currently the greatest coverage difficulties. “An investment incentive should be given, which involves the return of part of the amount payable” for the spectrum “if the investments are made in the first three years”.
In all the proposals on the table discussed today, they all seek to warn of the mistakes currently made with 4G, namely the “abandonment” of interior areas, an aspect to be rectified in the new mobile generation. Government and Anacom also need to adjust the needles with respect to the rules of the 5G auction, defend the parties.