Liquid Broadband and Telefonica Germany (O2) have submitted separate complaints to the Administrative Court of Cologne regarding the rules of Germany’s upcoming spectrum auction, stating that the process is discriminatory and anti-competitive. According to a report by WirtschaftsWoche, Frankfurt-based Liquid Broadband claims that the rules of the auction allow the three incumbent mobile network operators – Telefonica Germany (O2), Telekom Deutschland (TD) and Vodafone Germany – to submit significantly higher bids, thereby shutting out potential newcomers to the market. The firm proposed that part of the spectrum should be set aside for new entrants, but this request was denied by telecoms regulator the Federal Network Agency (FNA, also known as Bundesnetzagentur or BNetzA). For its part, Telefonica objects to a portion of the auction proceeds being used to subsidise the deployment of fibre-optic broadband in currently underserved parts of the country, stating that this would benefit TD in particular, as the firm would get some of its auction payment back in the form of fibre subsidies. ‘This affects the bidding behaviour and thus leads to the distortion of competition,’ the report quotes Telefonica as saying.
As previously reported by CommsUpdate, in late January the FNA opened the admission procedure for all companies interested in participating in its upcoming auction of spectrum in the 700MHz, 900MHz and 1800MHz frequency bands, setting a deadline of 6 March 2015 for the submission of applications. The sale, which is scheduled to take place during May and June, will feature spectrum in the 900MHz and 1800MHz bands, the current licences for which expire on 31 December 2016, while Germany will become the first European nation to auction off frequencies in the 700MHz range for mobile broadband, in a move aimed at accelerating the deployment of high speed services in rural parts of the country. Earlier this year, the FNA’s Advisory Council agreed that winning bidders must provide mobile broadband of at least 50Mbps (download) to a minimum 97% of all households in each federal state and 98% of homes nationwide.