(Updates with details, quotes from the ministry statement)
ANKARA, May 15 (Reuters) - Turkey’s tender for 4G telecoms frequency bands has been postponed by three months to Aug. 26, officials said on Friday, weeks after President Tayyip Erdogan urged the country not to “lose time” with the technology and to move straight to 5G.
The decision was announced by the transport and communications ministry. It said it required more time for technical and financial preparations and to evaluate bidder requests for a change in conditions for the tender, without giving further details.
Turkish telecommunications are currently based on 3G technology. Last month, Erdogan called for a move to fifth-generation mobile networks, skipping 4G technology.
“Within two years Turkey will be on 5G. Otherwise, it will be a garbage dump with 4G. Let’s be patient and jump from 3G to 5G. Can we do this? We definitely can,” he said.
The president’s comments were “meant to be instructions”, Trade and Customs Minister Nurettin Canikli said a few days after, adding that the fate of the tender was being discussed.
Turkey currently has three mobile operators - Turkcell , the country’s largest, Britain’s Vodafone and third-ranking Avea, majority owned by fixed-line operator Turk Telekom.
The communications technologies authority, the BTK, had set a May 26 deadline for the tender for 20 frequency bands at a minimum value of around 2.3 billion euros ($2.5 billion). Officials have previously said 4G services would be offered from the start of 2016. (Reporting by Orhan Coskun; Writing by Humeyra Pamuk; Editing by David Dolan and Pravin Char)