Germany on starting blocks for 700-MHz spectrum auction

Germany is preparing for its next major spectrum auction that will see the market's mobile operators bid for spectrum in several bands, including 700-MHz frequencies that have so far been used for terrestrial television.

"We will start the spectrum auction on 27 May in Mainz. Germany will be the first country in Europe to make spectrum in the 700-Megahertz frequency band available for mobile broadband," said Jochen Homann, president of German telecoms regulator Bundesnetzagentur.

Homann added the auction is expected to provide a strong impetus for a rapid rollout of mobile broadband networks, especially in rural areas. Telefónica Germany, Telekom Deutschland and Vodafone Germany have all been admitted to the auction.

In total, 270 MHz of spectrum from the 700 MHz, 900 MHz, 1500 MHz and 1800 MHz bands will be auctioned, with the sale starting at €1.5 billion ($1.7 billion). Bloomberg added that the final bidding amount is expected to come close to the €4.4 billion raised in the last auction in 2010, according to analysts at Warburg Research.

Bundesnetzagentur has previously noted that the switch to DVB T2 by television broadcasters means that 2 x 30 MHz of spectrum in the 700 MHz band can gradually be used for mobile broadband starting in 2017. The 900 MHz and 1800 MHz bands are also being auctioned as their usage rights expire at the end of 2016.

The reallocation of 700-MHz frequencies is designed to help achieve the German government's broadband objectives. Auction assignees have to commit to providing broadband coverage to at least 97 per cent of households in each federal state and at least 98 per cent of households nationwide, with a minimum transmission rate of 50 Mbps per sector and an average of 10 Mbps per household.

Mobile broadband coverage is also to be guaranteed along national motorways and high-speed railway lines. These requirements will apply to existing network operators only and not to new entrants, the regulator added.

Elsewhere in Europe, France has said it would allocate frequencies in the 700 MHz band to telecoms operators in 2015 and UK regulator Ofcom said last year it would assign 700 MHz frequencies to mobile operators by 2022.

For more:
- see this Bundesnetzagentur release
- see this Bloomberg article

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