LTE auction closes after 22 days; bids exceed expectations

6 Oct 2011

After 22 days of bidding and 469 separate rounds of bids, Italy’s Ministero dello Sviluppo Economico (Ministry of Economic Development, MdSE) has confirmed that the country’s spectrum auction has finally closed, with the four mobile network operators – Telecom Italia Mobile (TIM), Vodafone Italy, Wind Comunicazioni (Wind Italy) and 3 Italia (H3G Italia) – submitting combined bids worth in excess of EUR3.9 billion (USD5.2 billion). As anticipated, H3G was unchallenged in its application for two allocations of 2.6GHz spectrum in ‘specific’ bands, which were priced at EUR36.8 million and EUR37.2 million apiece. H3G secured two further ‘general’ spectrum allocations in the 2.6GHz band for EUR36.4 million and EUR36.0 million respectively, whilst TIM and Wind each snapped up three spectrum blocks in the same band for around EUR36 million apiece; Wind also secured an additional ‘specific’ concession, for EUR33.8 million. Contrary to earlier expectations – it declined to submit a bid during preliminary rounds of bidding – Vodafone also secured three spectrum blocks for the sought-after LTE-suitable 2.6GHz spectrum, paying around EUR36 million per block. Meanwhile, Vodafone, TIM and Wind also acquired two blocks of 800MHz spectrum apiece, with prices ranging from EUR481.7 million to EUR496.1 million. Elsewhere, Vodafone, TIM and H3G snagged frequencies in the 1800MHz band, valued at EUR159 million.

Industry Minister Paolo Romani commented: ‘It is an amazing achievement, which places Italy in a more advanced position than most of Europe. In a difficult market situation, we managed to attract a large amount of investment. The total proceeds go beyond expectations’. The government had previously stated that it hoped to raise at least EUR2.4 billion through the tender process, with Romani forecasting that the state could earn as much of EUR3.1 billion if all the frequencies are sold, a figure dwarfed by the eventual total.