Italy’s Ministero dello Sviluppo Economico (MdSE) has announced that it has received preliminary bids totalling EUR2.303 billion (USD3.332 billion) from the country’s four mobile network operators – Telecom Italia Mobile (TIM), Vodafone Italy, Wind Comunicazioni (Wind Italy) and 3 Italia (H3G Italia) – ahead of its upcoming auction for Long Term Evolution (LTE)-suitable frequencies. Frequencies in the following spectrum bands are set to go under the hammer: 800MHz, 1800MHz, 2000MHz and 2600MHz. According to the regulator all four cellcos submitted provisional offers for spectrum in the 1800MHz band – worth around EUR353 million apiece, whilst Vodafone opted out of the bidding for the 2600MHz frequencies, which attracted bids of between EUR30.7 million and EUR36.7 million, for general and specific spectrum blocks, respectively. TIM was the sole bidder to stake a claim for frequencies in the 1800MHz band, with an offer of EUR155.9 million; the 2000MHz band witnessed no takers.
The auction itself is scheduled to commence today, and participants will be expected to raise their existing bids by at least 3% in all spectrum categories. Further, operators yet to table a bid for specific spectrum bands will still be permitted to enter the fray. In July TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate reported that a total of five Italian operators had officially submitted requests to participate in the spectrum auction, with WiMAX operator Linkem – which currently offers wireless broadband coverage in around 200 municipalities – subsequently falling by the wayside. The Italian government had previously stated that it hoped to raise at least EUR2.4 billion in the tender process, with Industry Minister Paolo Romani forecasting that the state could earn as much of EUR3.1 billion if all the frequencies are sold.