German 5G spectrum auction ends, raising EUR6.5bn

13 Jun 2019

After 52 days and 497 rounds of bidding, Germany’s Federal Network Agency (FNA, known locally as the Bundesnetzagentur or BNetzA) has announced the conclusion of its multi-band 5G spectrum auction, raising a total of EUR6.5 billion (USD7.3 billion). Four companies – Telekom Deutschland, Telefonica Deutschland, Vodafone Germany and Drillisch Netz – participated in the auction, which began on 19 March and saw a total of 420MHz of spectrum sold off, comprising 2×60MHz of paired spectrum in the 1920MHz-1980MHz/2110MHz-2170MHz range (divided into 2×5MHz blocks) and 300MHz of unpaired spectrum in the 3400MHz-3700MHz range (blocks of 10MHz).

Telekom Deutschland was the highest bidder, paying EUR851.5 million for 2×20MHz of 2100MHz spectrum and EUR1.3 billion for 90MHz of 3.6GHz frequencies, followed by UK-owned Vodafone, which acquired 2×20MHz of 2100MHz spectrum for EUR806.5 million and 90MHz of 3.6GHz frequencies for EUR1.1 billion. Telefonica Deutschland bid EUR381.1 million for 2×10MHz (2100MHz) and EUR1.04 billion for 70MHz (3.6GHz) and lastly newcomer Drillisch Netz, which is wholly owned by 1&1 Drillisch, spent EUR334.9 million on 2×10MHz of 2100MHz spectrum and EUR735.2 million on 50MHz of 3.6GHz frequencies.

The coverage obligations for the licence winners include a requirement to supply speeds of a minimum of 100Mbps to at least 98% of households in each state by the end of 2022, as well as all federal highways, and the major roads and railways. By the end of 2024, 5G spectrum holders will be obliged to provide speeds of 100Mbps to all other main roads, while covering the smaller roads, railways, seaports and the main waterways with data rates of at least 50Mbps. Furthermore, each operator will have to set up 1,000 5G base stations by the end of 2022, in addition to 500 base stations in ‘white spot’ unserved rural areas. For newcomers, less stringent coverage requirements apply.