Yoigo, Orange win tech neutral spectrum

13 Jun 2011

Spain’s Secretaria de Estado de Telecomunicaciones has announced that Xfera Moviles, which offers its services under the Yoigo banner, and Orange Espana have been awarded concessions in the 1800MHz and 900MHz bands respectively, after it was revealed last month that the duo had been the only two bidders for the licences. With the sale representing the first batch of new mobile spectrum that is being made available by the government as part of a raft of frequency sales due to be held this year, France Telecom-owned Orange has committed to investing EUR433 million (USD620 million) for its new allocation, far higher than the EUR126 million minimum that the government had set for the first three years of the concession. In return for its investment the cellco will be given 5MHz paired spectrum in the 900MHz band, over which it can operate services using GSM, UMTS, Long Term Evolution (LTE) or WiMAX technologies, and the technology-neutral licence is valid until 31 December 2030. Of the total the cellco plans to invest, more than EUR204 million will be spent on services in regions where there are less than 5,000 inhabitants, while more than EUR136 million of that total will be spent in the first twelve months after receiving the licence. In addition to its investment pledges, Orange has also paid a EUR126 million fee to the state for the additional frequencies.

Xfera Moviles, a unit of Norwegian group Telenor, has meanwhile been handed three new licences for frequencies in the 1800MHz band, two of which comprise 5MHz of paired spectrum while the third uses a 4.8MHz paired block. Also valid until end-2030, Xfera paid a direct fee of EUR42 million to the Ministry for the technology-neutral concessions, while it committed to spending some EUR300 million, of which EUR168 million will be spent in the first year; the government had required that any bidders for the licences guarantee investment of EUR60 million.

As previously reported by CommsUpdate, in February 2011 the Spanish government revealed that it expected the previously announced sale of spectrum across a number of bands – some suitable for 4G LTE services – to raise between EUR1.5 billion and EUR2 billion. In addition, the state claims that the sale of frequencies in total will require investment of EUR1.2 billion by telecoms operators and will lead to the creation of some 40,000 jobs.