German spectrum auction raises more than €5 billion

Three existing mobile network operators finish bidding for 270MHz of spectrum in the 700MHz, 900MHz, 1500MHz and 1800MHz bands; France announces reserve price for 700MHz auction

German spectrum auction raises more than €5 billion

Germany’s mobile spectrum auction finished today after 16 days and 181 rounds with all three mobile network operators securing spectrum worth €5bn, the German telecoms regulator Bundesnetzagentur, announced today (19 June 2015).

In total 270MHz of spectrum from the 700MHz, 900MHz, 1500MHz and 1800MHz bands have been awarded. No new bidders took part in the auction with just the country three existing operators Telefónica Deutschland, Telekom Deutschland and Vodafone taking part. The breakdown is as follows:

Telefónica Deutschland
700 MHz: 2 x 10 MHz
900 MHz: 2 x 10 MHz
1800 MHz: 2 x 10 MHz
Price: €1,198,238,000

Telekom Deutschland
700 MHz: 2 x 10 MHz
900 MHz: 2 x 15 MHz
1800 MHz: 2 x 15 MHz
1500 MHz: 20 MHz
Price: € 1,792,156,000

700 MHz: 2 x 10 MHz
900 MHz: 2 x 10 MHz
1800 MHz: 2 x 25 MHz
1500 MHz: 20 MHz
Price: € 2,090,842,000

Total: 270 MHz
Price: € 5,081,236,000

The Bundesnetzagentur said that spectrum at 900MHz and 1800MHz provided the basis for establishing the mobile communications network as it is today, especially nationwide mobile voice communication, and the intention is that it should also be used in the future for broadband internet access.

Frequencies in the 700 MHz band have so far been used for terrestrial television. The switch from DVB-T to DVB-T2 means that they will be freed up and can be used for mobile broadband. Network operators will be able to roll out high speed internet using relatively few base stations to those areas that are currently under-served.

The Bundesnetzagentur said its goal is to use these frequencies to achieve almost complete nationwide provision of the population with broadband internet access – as is already the case with mobile voice telephony. For this reason the frequency usage rights include a coverage obligation of 98% of the population.

France is expected to be the next country in Europe to auction 700MHz spectrum, probably by the end of 2015. In a statement published today, regulator Arcep said it has set a total reserve price of almost €2.5 billion – i.e. €416m for each of the six 2 x 5MHz blocks on offer.

UK regulator Ofcom has endorsed the idea making 700MHz spectrum available for mobile services by 2022 (possibly two years earlier), but this is currently occupied by digital terrestrial TV channels such as Freeview, as well as theatrical, musical and sporting events (PMSE - Programme Making and Special Events). These will have to be cleared from the band and found new spectrum before being allocated to mobile services.


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