June 12, 2019
FRANKFURT(Reuters) – Germany has raised 6.55 billion euros ($7.4 billion) in its auction of 5G mobile spectrum, the Federal Network Regulator (BNetzA) said on Wednesday after a contest lasting nearly three months that will see a fourth operator enter the market.
The sum pledged in a record 497 rounds of bidding for the 41 blocks on offer was more than analysts had expected, while operators have complained that the price they were paying would sap their ability to invest in next-generation networks.
Market leader Deutsche Telekom came away with 130 Megaherz of the 420 MHz of spectrum on offer. Rival Vodafone also won 130 MHz and Telefonica Deutschland 90 MHz, according to results published by the BNetzA.
New entrant 1&1 Drillisch, a ‘virtual’ mobile player controlled by United Internet, won 70 MHz, bringing billionaire CEO Ralf Dommermuth closer to his dream of becoming Germany’s fourth operator.
Industry bosses had expressed concern that the four-way battle would inflate spectrum costs and undermine their ability to invest the billions needed to build 5G networks – as happened in a pricey spectrum auction in Italy last year.
In the end, the auction raised more than the 5.1 billion euros in a 2015 auction of 4G spectrum – but far less than the 50 billion euros forked over by bidders in a ruinously expensive 3G spectrum sale back in 2000.
(Reporting by Douglas Busvine; Editing by Tom Sims)