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New tax threatens 5G investment plans

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Romania sticks to its initial target and plans to hold the 5G auction by mid-December 2019, as the telecom regulator (ANCOM) has published for consultation the draft award conditions and auction rules for the 5G spectrum auction. Meanwhile, telecom operators have warned that the government's decision late last year to introduce levies on banks and new taxes on energy and telecommunications companies, which would have to pay three per cent of their turnover starting 2019, was not conducive to positive market sentiment.
In fact, Orange, Telekom and Vodafone Romania, members of the mobile operators’ association (AOMR), issued a joint statement pointing out that the government’s emergency decree 114/2018 threatened to trigger disruptions in the industry. The companies noted that the three percent tax on turnover would amount to around 100 million euro that would have to go to the state coffers instead of being invested in network development and new telecommunication services in Romania. They also said the decree infringed European legislation and was in conflict with certain national legislation.        
The statement emphasizes that the new tax comes at a time when mobile operators are expected to sustain substantial expenses for the 5G frequencies and launch major investments in their 5G networks. 
“In conclusion, the measures imposed under the Emergency Decree 114/2018 will deplete the financial resources of the mobile communications sector to the detriment of needed investments for network development,” the statement read. Based on those facts, the telecom companies asked the government to remove the stipulations on the telecom industry from its decree. 
At European level, the European Commission supports the implementation of the new technology, claiming that "the fifth generation of telecommunication systems, or 5G, will be one of the most critical building blocks of our digital economy and society in the next decade. Europe has taken significant steps to lead global developments towards this strategic technology.”
The Commission also notes that “the 5G will provide virtually ubiquitous, ultra-high bandwidth, and low latency "connectivity" not only to individual users but also to connected objects. Therefore, it is expected that the future 5G infrastructure will serve a wide range of applications and sectors including professional uses.“
Under the Commission’s 5G Action Plan for Europe, adopted in 2016, 5G services should be launched in all 28 Member States by end 2020. Moreover, Europe should achieve uninterrupted 5G coverage in urban areas and along major transport routes by 2025.

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