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5G

Spain doles out 700MHz spectrum for $1.1B

That didn't take long: Spain's long-awaited auction of license concessions in the 700MHz frequency band was over in one day.

The total sum raised was a shade over €1 billion ($1.12 billion), all of which came from four blocks of paired spectrum in the 703MHz–733MHz and 758MHz–788MHz bands. Three 5MHz blocks of unpaired "supplementary" downstream spectrum (738MHz–753MHz) were left to gather dust.

The total reserve price for all seven tranches was €995.5 million, suggesting only a sliver of bidding competition. The auction petered out after 12 rounds.

Who paid what?

Vodafone and Orange each stumped up €350 million ($412.7 million). Vodafone got a 2x10MHz block of 700MHz spectrum, and Orange bagged two 2x5MHz blocks for its money. Telefónica shelled out €310.1 million ($365.6 million) for its 2x10MHz block of 700MHz airwaves.

Each license concession runs for a minimum of 20 years, although there is a 20-year extension available if certain conditions are met.


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The 700MHz auction rules set by Spain's Ministry of Economic Affairs and Digital Transformation were a bit looser than the original ones. To try to encourage some energetic bidding, the ministry trimmed reserve prices by 12.5% and 20% (depending on the block) and introduced the option to extend license durations by 20 years.

The modifications don't seem to have the desired effect. Aside from unsold blocks of downlink spectrum, and reserve prices barely budging, there was an auction no-show from Másmóvil, Spain's fourth-largest operator.

5G bragging

On conclusion of the 700MHz auction, Orange now claims it has the largest amount of spectrum in the two 5G "priority bands."

Aside from the newly acquired 700MHz haul, Orange points out it has 110MHz of spectrum assets in the 3.5GHz frequency band. Telefónica has 100MHz of mid-band 3.5GHz spectrum, while Vodafone shows up empty here (although it does have 90MHz of TDD spectrum in the 3.7GHz frequency band).

In the run-up to the 700MHz auction and after it, Telefónica emphasised 5G coverage. With the help of dynamic spectrum sharing technology, the operator's 5G signals cover 80% of the population.

In a short statement Vodafone said it will "accelerate the deployment" of 5G on the back of its low-band 700MHz airwaves.

— Ken Wieland, contributing editor, special to Light Reading

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