Orange Poland to pay €748M for 4G spectrum

Orange Poland said it will pay PLN3.2 billion (€748 million/$859.1 million) for new spectrum frequencies that will support its future 4G network rollout, and also called for greater cooperation among operators on a possible sharing of frequencies.

The Polish unit of the Orange group said it acquired two 5 MHz blocks in the 800 MHz band and three 5 MHz blocks in the 2600 MHz band, noting that the additional frequencies would allow it to provide mobile Internet services throughout the country. The company was reported to be under the most pressure to secure new spectrum.

Reuters noted that Orange Poland's total payment compares to its 2014 full-year EBITDA of PLN3.9 billion. The company conceded that it had paid a high price for the 800 MHz frequencies, but said it is a financially stable company that was prepared for such a necessary expense to support its future development.

The news agency added that regulator UKE also said T-Mobile Poland will pay PLN2.1 billion, while Polkomtel (Plus) will pay PLN156 million and P4 (Play) PLN1.7 billion.

P4 previously said it had won one 800 MHz block and four blocks of 2.6 GHz frequencies, adding that this will enable it to maintain a competitive position on the Polish mobile market in the coming years.

The auction came to an end last week after raising PLN9.23 billion in bids, which was six times the original target of around PLN1.6 billion. In total, five 800 MHz blocks and 14 blocks of 2.6 GHz spectrum were up for grabs. Each bidder could buy no more than two 800 MHz blocks and four 2.6 GHz blocks.

The auction was not without controversy, however. The government last month decided to set a deadline for the auction in order to bring what had become a protracted process to an end.

That move was criticised by operators, with P4 saying "legal errors ended the auction proceedings" and calling for cooperation between the government auction participants to "ensure stable and investment-friendly solutions." Orange Poland also said it was ready to talk with other operators on a possible cooperation.

For more:
- see the UKE release (in Polish)
- see the Orange Poland release (in Polish)
- see the P4 (Play) statement (in Polish)
- see this Reuters article
- see this separate Reuters article

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