Spain delayed a spectrum auction originally planned for this year until January 2016, when it intends to open the bidding for frequencies in the 2.6 GHz and 3.5 GHz bands, reported Spanish newspaper Expansion.
Telecompaper reported that the auction was delayed because of the Spanish elections on Dec. 20.
According to Expansion, the process will start at the end of January and the winning bidders are expected to be named in March. The starting price for the spectrum has been set at €5 million ($5.5 million).
The paper noted that the frequencies to be auctioned include a 2×10 MHz block in the 2.6 GHz band that was previously owned by cable operator Ono, which has since been acquired by Vodafone. The tender will also offer 2.6 GHz frequencies that were not sold in previous auctions.
A 20 MHz block will be offered in the 3.5 GHz band, which is currently being used to provide fixed-wireless broadband services.
The reported added that TeliaSonera-owned Yoigo and local telecoms provider Masmovil are among the likely bidders for the spectrum, while Movistar (Telefónica), Vodafone Spain and Orange Spain will be unable to bid because they have already reached authorised spectrum caps.
Spain last carried out a 4G spectrum auction in 2011, when it raised a total of almost €1.82 billion from the sale of 800 MHz, 900 MHz, 1800 MHz and 2.6 GHz frequencies in two rounds. Telefónica, Orange Spain, Vodafone Spain and TeliaSonera-owned Yoigo all took part in the auction and each picked up blocks in the various bands.
Yoigo, which is Spain's fourth-largest mobile operator, recently announced it will invest €25 million in the expansion of its 4G mobile network with the goal of covering 80 per cent of the Spanish population in May 2016.
The company said its 4G network currently covers 66 per cent of the population. It noted that it expects to have deployed 80 per cent of its network by the end of March 2016, with 100 per cent network deployment achieved in late May.
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