Altice boss slams minister over “lack of vision”
The CEO of telecoms giant Altice Portugal, Alexandre Fonseca, has warned this week that the “more investment telecoms operators make for 5G technology licenses, the less financial resources they will have left” for 5th generation technology and services to reach the places that most need it.
The CEO of Altice Portugal also regretted statements made by the minister of Infrastructures, Pedro Nuno Santos, who said that he is pleased with the way the 5G auction is proceeding. Fonseca said it showed a “tradesman’s perspective and a lack of strategic vision.”
On 24 March, in a regular parliamentary hearing, the minister for Infrastructure and Housing said that he was “very pleased with the way the auction was proceeding” and said that he hoped that the bids would continue to increase.
“We want the bidding to increase because we need the money so that we can then invest in getting the whole of Portugal with fibre optics coverage,” said the minister.
Alexandre Fonseca told DN and Lusa,”Obviously we can only regret (these comments) from various points of view”.
“First up, the attitudes that these statements imply; a lack of an institutional position and even a position from the State in the way they were said and things were done.
Second, because they are unfair to a sector that employs tens of thousands of people and which is worth almost 3% of the GDP, and which has been investing more than €1Bn every year for over a decade in Portugal,” said Fonseca.
Moreover, “These statements also seem to be prejudiced and reveal a prejudice against private companies and their investments, forgetting that this investment is a fundamental component,” added the Altice Portugal CEO.
Fonseca called the attitude “mercantile” since the government seemed more worried about injecting capital into the State Budget that would flow from 5G, rather than looking at 5G as essential for the competitiveness of telecoms companies and territorial coverage and cohesion.
Finally, Fonseca regretted the “lack of strategic vision” reminding the minister that local municipal councils, business leaders and even the minister for the Economy himself had all said that 5G was vital for the future of Portugal because it is a disruptive technology that will bring a range of new opportunities.
Altice, along with other major telecoms players in the Portuguese market like NOS, has always argued that the rules governing the auction are illegal and unacceptable and would have catastrophic and irreversible consequences for Portugal.
But the government wants to open up the market to new players because it believes fibre optic network coverage and more reasonable prices will benefit the general public through greater competition.
Critics of the big operators claim that they don’t want to let other, smaller telecoms operators into the country because that would reduce the size of their slice of the pie.
According to Reuters, “Under the new rules, long-time market players Altice, Vodafone and NOS will have to share their infrastructures and offer national roaming to the new entrants’ customers”.
At the end of March Altice Portugal also asked the regulator ANACOM, which is running the 5G auction in Portugal, to suspend it until clarifications over a merger between Vodafone and the Spanish telecoms operator MásMóvil were confirmed.