Italy’s auction of 5G wireless spectrum ended yesterday (2 October) having raised a total of over EUR6.55 billion (USD7.56 billion), more than EUR4 billion higher than the government’s minimum target. The competitive phase of the auction ran for 14 days and saw 171 rounds of bidding.
Licences in the 3600MHz-3800MHz band were the most sought after, attracting combined bids of EUR4.35 billion. The two largest packets of frequencies in this band were won by Telecom Italia (TIM) and Vodafone, while Wind Tre and Iliad acquired smaller allocations. The 700MHz auction, which was completed in the first days of the sale process, brought in EUR2.04 billion, with the spectrum won by TIM, Vodafone and Iliad. All five participants – the four cellcos plus ISP Fastweb – were successful in securing 26GHz frequencies, with the five available blocks raising EUR163.7 million.
TIM was the highest bidder across the three frequency bands, agreeing to pay a total of EUR2.41 billion for its allocation, while Vodafone was not far behind, with bids of EUR2.40 billion. Newcomer Iliad offered EUR1.19 billion, while Wind Tre was well behind with combined bids of EUR516.5 million. Fastweb paid EUR32.6 million for its 26GHz licence.
A number of blocks of 700MHz supplemental downlink spectrum attracted no bids in the initial auction, so the Ministry of Economic Development (Ministero dello Svilluppo Economico, MiSE) says that offers for the frequencies will be accepted in a second stage of bidding from Friday 5 October.
There has been some concern that the high prices could jeopardise the future of operators, while consumer groups fear that end users will be hit hard as operators look to recoup their outlay via higher tariffs. Licence fees are due in instalments between 2018-2022.