Italy’s Ministry of Economic Development (MSE) has announced plans to sell three blocks of vacant UMTS spectrum, Italian newspaper La Repubblica reports. The sale could raise EUR266.1 million (USD351.9 million), with blocks valued at EUR88.7 million each. The sale will be open to existing operators as well as newcomers to the 3G wireless market, with existing cellcos being restricted to a maximum of two blocks. The vacant frequencies, which comprise 15MHz of paired and 5MHz of unpaired spectrum, were returned to public ownership by Ipse 2000 (a venture of Spain’s Telefonica) in January 2006. Potential buyers have until midday on 8 May to place their bids.
There were around 24.3 million 3G subscribers in Italy at the end of 31 December 2008, according to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms database, up 16% from 20.4 million at the end of 2007.