Spectrum renewal concerns in Italy

26 Oct 2016

There is concern in Italy that the government’s plan to renew mobile spectrum licences in the 900MHz and 1800MHz bands could hold up the merger between Wind and 3 Italia and delay the entry of the country’s new fourth mobile network operator (MNO) Iliad. The state is looking to raise around EUR1.8 billion (USD2 billion) from the renewal of concessions held by TIM, Vodafone, Wind and 3 Italia which are due to expire on 30 June 2018; the licences will be extended to 31 December 2029.

Wind and 3 are due to merge their operations from the start of next year, with a deal already agreed to sell part of their spectrum assets to French firm Iliad. A report from Il Sole 24 Ore suggests that the French group is unhappy at having to pay Wind and 3 Italia EUR450 million for spectrum in the 900MHz, 1800MHz, 2100MHz and 2600MHz bands only to then have to pay around EUR300 million to renew the 900MHz/1800MHz frequencies. TIM and Vodafone are expected to pay around EUR550 million each to renew their own licences, while the combined Wind-3 will be asked to pay around EUR350 million.