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UPDATE 1-Czech incumbents win out in 5G auction

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PRAGUE, Nov 13 (Reuters) - The three Czech incumbent mobile operators won frequencies in an auction connected to future next-generation 5G networks, the regulator said on Friday, dashing hopes for a fourth operator to enter the market to increase competition.

Telecoms regulator CTU said five groups won frequency bands, paying a total 5.6 billion crowns ($250.69 million).

Incumbents O2 Czech Republic, T-Mobile and Vodafone won blocks in the 700 MHz band suited to building national networks.

The incumbents, along with CentroNet and Nordic Telecom 5G, also each gained blocks in the 3.4-3.6 GHz band. Two other groups, Sev.en Innovations and PODA, were not successful in the auction, CTU said.

The country had hoped to draw a fourth operator to push down prices that are among the highest in Europe.

Trade website said new players would depend on O2 Czech Republic’s network after the telecom group, majority-owned by the country’s richest person Petr Kellner, won a block associated with national roaming commitments.

Among the new players, Nordic Telecom said it would aim to offer mobile services to customers around the country.

Industry Minister Karel Havlicek said on Twitter new players would increase competitive pressure on existing operators and industry would have better access to 5G after the auction.

$1 = 22.3380 Czech crowns Reporting by Jason Hovet; editing by Barbara Lewis