Finland raises more than €100M from 800 MHz auction

Finland achieved its goal of raising more than €100 million ($137.4 million) from its auction of spectrum in the 800 MHz frequency band, although the auction itself dragged for nine months.

"It is regrettable for all parties involved that the auction process was so lengthy," conceded Pia Viitanen, minister of housing and communications of Finland. "We will make use of the experience in drafting the reform of electronic communications legislation, the Code for Information Society and Communications Services, and ensure that future auctions will not get prolonged in such a way," Viitanen said.

Nonetheless, Finland has set a good example to other governments by contenting itself with total revenue of €108.01 million, which compares favourably to the more than €2 billion that Austrian operators will have to pay. Like Austria, Finland is also a very competitive market with some of the lowest prices for mobile data in Europe, according to research by consultancy Rewheel.

The winning operators for the spectrum were DNA, Elisa and TeliaSonera Finland, according to an announcement made today by the Finnish Ministry of Transport and Communications.

The government will award the winning bidders a 20-year licence starting Jan. 1, 2014, and each operator must launch operations within two years of the start of the licence period and cover 95 per cent of the population on mainland Finland within three years.

Finland's 800 MHz auction: the winners and fees:

DNA Oy

Frequency pair FDD1: 16 900 000 euros
Frequency pair FDD2: 16 670 000 euros

Elisa Oyj

Frequency pair FDD5: 16 670 000 euros
Frequency pair FDD6: 16 670 000 euros

TeliaSonera Finland Oyj

Frequency pair FDD3: 22 200 000 euros
Frequency pair FDD4: 18 900 000 euros

"The most important aspect in terms of communications policy is that the 800 MHz frequency band can be taken into the use of a wireless broadband so that high-speed 4G connections will be available throughout the country," Viitanen commented.

All three operators welcomed the outcome of the auction and said the spectrum will enable them to step up their rollouts of LTE networks and services across Finland, particularly in rural areas.

"The use of the 800 MHz frequency band for mobile broadband services is one way to develop the speed and size of the 4G network," DNA CEO Jukka Leinonen said in a statement. "In addition, we will continue to invest in our networks using LTE in the 1800 MHz and 2.6 GHz frequency bands in urban areas," Leinonen said.

DNA said its LTE network covers more than 40 cities and more than 2 million people in Finland, while Elisa said it provides LTE speeds to 230 locations. TeliaSonera said its LTE network built in the 1800 MHz and 2.6 GHz frequency bands has 40 per cent population coverage.

In Austria, meanwhile, Austria's telecoms watchdog said it will hear complaints by operators about the LTE spectrum auction, which was criticised for being too expensive. However, the head of the regulator, Georg Serentschy, told Reuters that the watchdog could not change the auction results.

For more:
- see this release from the Finnish Ministry of Transport and Communications
- see this TeliaSonera release
- see this DNA release
- see this Reuters article

Related Articles:
Austrian operators slam high price of LTE spectrum
LTE auction roundup: Finland starts 800-MHz process, Ireland raises €855m and UK mulls 700-MHz

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