Big 3 Win Spanish LTE Spectrum

Spain's Long Term Evolution (LTE) spectrum auction has concluded, with incumbent Telefónica SA (NYSE: TEF), Orange Spain and Vodafone España S.A. sharing the spoils, leaving eight bidders empty-handed.

The auction raised €1.65 billion (US$2.37 billion), above the minimum required but short of the €2 billion ($2.87 billion) the Spanish government had hoped for.

Vodafone España won 60MHz of spectrum and says it will use its new airwaves to launch Long Term Evolution (LTE) services in rural as well as urban areas.

The operator, also known as Vodafone Spain, is paying €518 million (US$744 million) for 20MHz (2 x 10MHz) in the 800MHz band, which will become available in 2014 when the switch from analog to digital TV is completed in Spain, and 40MHz (2 x 20MHz) in the 2.6GHz band, which is available immediately.

Vodafone Spain, which has 17.35 million customers, says it has also been given permission to "re-farm" some of its 900MHz spectrum, which was initially issued for GSM services, for 3G and, as a result, intends to extend its 3G services into rural areas before the end of this year.

— Ray Le Maistre, International Managing Editor, Light Reading

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