E-Plus loses out as spectrum auction concludes

21 May 2010

Germany’s largest spectrum auction since the allocation of UMTS concessions in 2000 has come to an end with bids totalling EUR4.38 billion (USD5.43 billion), telecoms regulator the Federal Network Agency (FNA) has announced. A spectrum package of 360MHz in four different bands went under the hammer, of which 60MHz in the so-called ‘digital dividend’ range of 800MHz – divided into six blocks of 2×5MHz – proved the main attraction, with the majority of funds (EUR3.576 billion) generated by this range. After 224 bidding rounds, the country’s three largest mobile operators by subscribers each secured two paired 5MHz blocks in the 800MHz band: Spanish company Telefonica O2 Germany paid the highest amount, EUR1.212 billion for the two blocks, followed by the UK’s Vodafone Germany (EUR1.21 billion) and Deutsche Telekom’s (DT’s) wireless arm T-Mobile Deutschland (EUR1.15 billion). Germany’s smallest player E-Plus, which is the local unit of the Netherland’s KPN, failed to win any spectrum in the 800MHz range. DT board member Niek Jan van Damme said his company can now prepare to roll out Long Term Evolution (LTE) technology to rural areas, noting: ‘We acquired all of the frequency blocks necessary to move forward with our network expansion.’

As well as the digital dividend band, spectrum blocks were tendered in the 1.8GHz, 2GHz and 2.6GHz ranges. The sale of paired spectrum in the 2GHz band generated the second highest amount, over EUR348 million, with E-Plus winning two blocks of 2×4.95MHz, while Vodafone and Telefonica each secured one block of paired spectrum, with the latter also winning 1×5MHz and 1×14.2MHz blocks in the same range. The winners of spectrum in the 1.8GHz band were DT (three blocks of 2×5MHz) and E-Plus, which bid over EUR43 million for two blocks of 2×5MHz. All four companies secured paired spectrum in the 2.6GHz range; DT, Telefonica and Vodafone each walked away with four blocks of 2×5MHz, with E-Plus winning the remaining two blocks of paired spectrum. Vodafone was the big winner of unpaired spectrum in the 2.6GHz range, securing five 1×5MHz blocks, while Telefonica and E-Plus each won two blocks and DT one. In total Vodafone secured twelve blocks of spectrum for EUR1.42 billion, Telefonica paid EUR1.38 billion for eleven blocks, DT acquired ten blocks for EUR1.3 billion and E-Plus bought eight blocks for EUR283.6 million.