Germany opens 700 MHz frequency auction

The German telecoms regulator has opened a frequency auction for spectrum in the 700 MHz frequency band, saying that the move will help improve the provision of broadband services across Germany.

In a statement, the Bundesnetzagentur said the planned migration of broadcasting services from DVB-T to the DVB-T2 platform will enable up to 2x30 MHz in the 700 MHz band to be freed up for use by mobile broadband providers from 2017.

"These frequencies enable the construction of networks with relatively few base stations particularly in regions that previously had to do without fast Internet access," the Bundesnetzagentur said.

The regulator noted that Germany would become the first country in Europe to allocate frequencies in the 700 MHz band for mobile broadband, and said it plans to auction them in conjunction with frequencies in the 900 MHz and 1800 MHz bands for which usage rights expire at the end of 2016.

Companies that wish to take part in the auction must submit their applications by Mar. 6, and the auction is expected to take place in May or June this year.

The new auctions will place additional financial pressure on existing players, which have already spent almost €4.44 billion ($5 billion) on spectrum, including "digital dividend" 800 MHz spectrum, in 2010. The government has set ambitious targets for broadband coverage, aiming for 97 per cent nationwide coverage with 10 Mbps speeds per household by 2018.

France has also previously said it will allocate frequencies that are currently used by broadcasters in the 700 MHz band to mobile broadband providers via an auction in December 2015.

For more:
- see this Bundesnetzagentur release (in German)

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