The Netherlands yesterday launched an auction of mobile spectrum in the 2.6GHz band, with five as yet unnamed companies taking part. The spectrum sale will enable network operators to improve and expand their mobile data capabilities to cater for increased demand for bandwidth-hungry services. In the auction, a total of 190MHz is up for grabs, split into 38 blocks of 5MHz each. Reuters notes that this eclipses the 144MHz of spectrum sold off in 2000 for a total of around EUR3 billion (USD4 billion). This time round though, industry watchers expect the monies raised to be far more modest, due to the way the auction is being conducted and the small number of firms taking part. The Dutch Economy Ministry expects operators will be able to start rolling out their networks via the new frequencies from June.