700MHz ‘second digital dividend’ auction to take place in 2Q15; complaints arise over government’s ‘financial gain’

15 Jan 2015

German telecoms regulator, the Federal Network Agency (FNA, also known as Bundesnetzagentur or BNetzA) intends to auction off spectrum in the 700MHz, 900MHz, 1500MHz and 1800MHz bands for electronic communications services (mobile broadband) in the second quarter of 2015, it has been revealed. The federal government and the federal states agreed on the inclusion of the 700MHz spectrum (known as the ‘second digital dividend’) at the Conference of Minister Presidents on 11 December 2014, but the terms of the auction have reportedly caused consternation for a number of Germany’s smaller players.

According to a report by VPRT.de, fourth-placed mobile operator Telefonica Germany (O2) and Stuttgart-based 2600MHz spectrum holder Airdata are among the interested parties that have criticised the FNA for its 700MHz frequency auction plans, suggesting that the closing-off of the market and financial gain for the government are the watchdog’s only concerns. The minimum bid values for the spectrum have increased exponentially since sub-1GHz former broadcast frequencies (800MHz, ‘first digital dividend’) were last auctioned in 2010, effectively blocking new providers from entering the market. However, rival operators Telekom Deutschland and Vodafone Germany are said to have broadly welcomed the plans.