ROME (Reuters) - Italian private broadcaster Mediaset and media group Cairo Communication have filed an appeal with a regional court against rules set for an auction of frequencies for fifth-generation (5G) mobile services, a legal source and a source close to the matter said.
The sale of the frequencies is expected to raise at least 2.5 billion euros ($2.9 billion) for state coffers and national communications authority AGCOM set out the rules governing the auction last month.
The appeal against the procedure for assigning the frequencies could delay the process and in turn impact Italy’s ability to raise cash through the auction.
The frequencies are currently used by several TV groups including Mediaset, state broadcaster RAI and Cairo’s La7 Channel, which would all have to free up the frequencies once they came up for auction.
Mediaset and Cairo both declined to comment.
A third source said the reason for the appeal was a “pre-emptive and defensive” one, although Italy is not expected to complete the sale and allocation of the frequencies before the end of 2022.
Italy’s main telecoms operators, including Telecom Italia, Vodafone Italia, Wind-Tre and Fastweb are all expected to join in the auction, due to be held in September.
The European Union approved a plan to deploy 5G in all urban areas and major terrestrial roads by 2025 in order to provide ultra-fast internet services to companies and households.
In Germany, the auction is expected in early 2019. Deutsche Telekom has urged the regulator to sell the frequencies at reasonable prices to ensure that operators had enough money left to invest in infrastructure.
Reporting by Alberto Sisto, writing by Giulia Segreti; editing by David Evans