E-Plus leads in first day of spectrum auction

13 Apr 2010

Having yesterday launched Germany’s largest spectrum auction since the allocation of UMTS concessions in 2000, the country’s telecoms regulator, the Federal Network Agency (FNA), has revealed that E-Plus placed the highest offer in the first day of bidding ahead of Spanish-owned Telefonica O2 Germany. E-Plus, which is the local mobile unit of the Netherland’s KPN, bid around EUR8.6 million (USD11.7 million) each for two blocks in the 800MHz band freed up in the switchover from analogue to digital television. E-Plus outbid Telefonica O2, which had placed the highest bid in the first round. Three bidding rounds took place on Monday, with a total value of EUR116.78 million, although it has been estimated that bids could reach EUR8 billion by the time the auction concludes. The entire process could last days, or even weeks, and will only end once no higher bids for any of the 41 frequency blocks in four different bands are received.

CommsUpdate reported last month that a total of four applicants had been admitted to the auction: incumbent telco Deutsche Telekom’s mobile unit T-Mobile; UK-based Vodafone; Telefonica O2 Germany; and E-Plus. A spectrum package of 360MHz has gone under the hammer, including spectrum in the 1.8GHz, 2GHz and 2.6GHz ranges, as well as 60MHz in the so-called ‘digital dividend’ range of 800MHz, divided into six blocks of 2×5MHz. The two largest cellcos, T-Mobile and Vodafone, are limited to making bids for two of the six blocks each (i.e. 2×10MHz), as they already own licences for the 900MHz frequency range, while O2 and E-Plus can bid for three blocks each (2×15MHz). Spectrum in this range is expected to be used for Long Term Evolution (LTE) network deployments.