NOS CEO accuses Anacom of “auction incompetence”
The CEO of Portuguese telecoms provider NOS told a parliamentary hearing on Tuesday that Portugal’s telecoms watchdog was “breathtakingly incompetent” in its attitude towards regulations governing the 5G rollout.
Miguel Almeida made his criticisms about the Portuguese telecoms regulator Anacom in advance of the 5G auction which is expected to take place this month.
He told the hearing that the National Communications Authority (Anacom) intends to “redesign the structure of the telecommunications market in Portugal” and warned that by changing the goal posts by default, the regulator is putting “the development of sustainable competition at risk”.
On 5G, he said that the proposed rules Anacom wanted to introduce would send Portugal “back to the Dark Ages.”
“Instead of building bridges of dialogue with the sector, with a view to defining proportionate, balanced and sustainable solutions,” said the NOS CEO during a hearing of Commission for Economy, Innovation, Public Works and Housing at the Portuguese parliament, “Anacom is using the media to pander to a populist audience without taking care to create regulatory conditions for the development of a sustainable competition,” he said.
“Anacom’s activity has for some time been focused on attacking and blackening the sector whose development it should promote. By highlighting false data, distorting other data, and leaving out the majority of relevant data, Anacom hopes to rewrite the evolution of the communications sector in Portugal, with the end objective of showing that it is a sector without competition,” he added.
Miguel Almeida says that the body run by João Cadete de Matos has sold a narrative that the telecoms market in Portugal is not competitive.
“Anacom always runs to the same studies,” he said, coming up with various data supporting the regulator’s view. The NOS CEO accused Anacom of spreading “misinformation or blatantly twisting it during press interviews and when presenting it before parliament.”
Almeida said that in the light of the 5G frequencies auction, the rules proposed by the regulator “completely compromise competition and investment in the sector and, as a result, the desired digital transition of public sector companies”.
“If Anacom doesn’t change the rules for the auction, apart from being illegal and will certainly cause legal disputes, it will be condemning Portugal to irreversible irrelevance in the future digital economy,” he added, saying that the auction regulations would drive the sector “back to the Dark Ages” and put Portugal on the path to becoming an “economic wasteland”.
“There will be no digital transition without 5G if these regulations see the light of day,” he said.
Altice Portugal too has said that there was a “hostile and adverse regulatory environment,” and “measures have to be considered” that may involve disinvestment or “rationalisation of involvement in projects that consume large amounts of capital”.
On Thursday, the Vodafone group said it was considering the auction of 5G spectrum in Portugal, considering that the rules proposed by the National Communications Authority (Anacom) are “illegal and discriminatory, which could involve “bidding for less spectrum” or even “not bidding.
All of the players in the Portuguese market claim they are being forced to operate in a hostile and adverse regulatory environment, which not only does not stimulate investment, but also holds back any investor from investing in the Portuguese telecommunications sector, a sector where everyone from the government to independent associations, including major international consultancies and technology manufacturers, all are unanimous in criticising Anacom’s management of the 5G dossier.