Another blow to Italian 5G auction plans

15 Jun 2018

The Italian government faces another potential blow to its plans to auction 5G wireless spectrum later this year. Following on from yesterday’s story which revealed that two broadcasters were considering legal action against proposals to force them to vacate 700MHz frequencies, reports now suggest that Italian cellcos may boycott the sale. Bloomberg writes that TIM, Vodafone Italy and Wind Tre all think the 700MHz spectrum is priced too high, while they consider the rules for the auction as a whole to be too rigid. Another negative point for the operators is that the frequencies in the 700MHz band will not be made available until 2022.

The Italian government announced in May that it hoped to be among the first countries in Europe to run a full 5G spectrum auction, with plans for a sale this September. Spectrum will be made available in the 694MHz-790MHz, 3.6GHz-3.8GHz and 26.5GHz-27.5GHz bands. In the 700MHz band six paired 5MHz blocks will be on offer, with two paired blocks (2×10MHz) reserved for a new entrant. Two blocks of 80MHz spectrum and two of 20MHz will be sold in the 3.6GHz-3.8GHz band, with a spectrum cap of 100MHz per operator, while the 26.5GHz-27.5GHz spectrum will be split into five lots of 200MHz.

Telecoms watchdog the Communications Regulatory Authority (Autorita per le Garanzie nelle Comunicazioni, Agcom) has said that the government hopes to raise at least EUR2.5 billion (USD2.9 billion) from the sale, though this may now be in doubt if operators are balking at the prices being asked. The 700MHz band frequencies account for around 80% of the total reserve prices, or approximately EUR2 billion.