5G fury: Altice Portugal ‘pulls plug on investment projects’

Altice Portugal is suspending investment projects “due to the disaster of decisions by the regulator (Anacom) over 5G”.

This has been the message given in interview with Lusa by Altice director João Zúquete, following the tirade launched earlier this month by the telecom’s CEO Alexandre Fonseca (click here).

Zúquete’s threat is almost certainly designed to push the government into somehow ‘changing Anacom’s direction’. The director framed his message with the observation that “so far” the government hasn’t stepped in to “contradict” Anacom.

This whole furore is about the terms of the looming 5G auction which Anacom has designed to ‘welcome competition’.

Altice, Vodfone and NOS are fairly apoplectic (click here) complaining Anacom’s terms show very little appreciation of everything the ‘big three’ have done for Portugal this far.

Thus Altice’s plan to pull investments.

The company has “no alternative”, said Zúquete, but to rethink the strategic vision for Portugal “making all efforts to seek financial sustainability and job protection”.

Zúquete continued: “We are therefore forced to take immediate measures that include the suspension of ongoing investment projects, the cessation of the establishment of new partnerships, the non-operationalisation of current partnerships in the territory with special focus on projects in areas of low population density”.

In an undisguised challenge to the government to ‘step in and do something’ it now remains to be seen what happens next.

Anacom president João Cadete de Matos has previously stressed that his authority ‘won’t be pushed around’ by anyone. Economy minister Pedro Siza Vieira has also said he is “concerned” by “such controversy” around the terms of the 5G auction – highlighting the fact that Portugal’s “excellent telecommunications infrastructures” (put in, it has to be acknowledged, by current operators) have been a “factor in attracting investment”.

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