700 MHz auction originally set for Q1 next year
The Spanish government confirmed that the auction to award spectrum in the 700 MHz band in will take place in the first months of 2020 and not in the first quarter of 2019 as it had been previously suggested, Spanish press reported.
The country’s Director General of the Ministry of Economy and Enterprise Roberto Sanchez reportedly said that mobile operators had requested the government postpone the auction to avoid acquiring frequencies next year that will only be available in 2020.
Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez had previously said the auction process was expected to take place in the first quarter of next year.
Operators had argued that the 800 MHz band, which had been auctioned in 2011, was made available to the winning bidders in 2015.
The 700 MHz band is currently utilized for Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) services but will be freed up by March 2020. DTT migration is expected to start in January of next year.
According to previous reports, the government aims to raise up to EUR 1.05 billion ($1.14 billion) with the 700 MHz spectrum auction.
This tender will represent the second auction of 5G-suitable spectrum in Spain. In July 2018, the Spanish government raised a total of EUR 438 million through the sale of 5G frequencies by auctioning spectrum in the 3.6 GHz to 3.8 GHz range, which will be key for the launch of commercial 5G services in the country. The government had set a reserve price of EUR 100 million for the 5G spectrum.
Spanish carriers Movistar, Orange, Vodafone all acquired 5G spectrum after 34 rounds of bidding. These carriers submitted bids for a total of 200 megahertz of spectrum, which was sold under 20-year licenses for lots of five megahertz at a minimum price of EUR 2.5 million each.
Orange acquired a total of 60 megahertz of spectrum for EUR 132 million. The operator already holds 40 megahertz in this band.
Telefonica, which operates in the mobile segment through its Movistar brand, purchased 50 megahertz of spectrum for EUR 107 million. The company already had 40 megahertz in the 3.5 GHz band.
Meanwhile, Vodafone acquired a total of 90 megahertz for EUR 198 million.
Masmovil took part in the auction but did not acquire spectrum in the process.
Sanchez said that the government has launched an initiative to carry out trials of 5G technology to explore ways to benefit different sectors of the country’s economy.
Vodafone Spain, in association with Chinese vendor Huawei, had installed in July what it claimed to be one of the first 5G network nodes in the world at La Nave, an urban innovation space situated in the Spanish capital city of Madrid.
Vodafone said that the deployment of the 5G node has already supported a number of demonstrations related to the potential impact of 5G technology.
Vodafone Spain previously launched 5G trials in the cities of Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia, Bilbao, Malaga and Seville, and has sid that it has already installed more than 30 antennas in the six selected cities, in collaboration with Chinese vendor Huawei.
The Spanish telco said it would use 5G spectrum acquired earlier this year for those pre-commercial 5G non-standalone (NSA) tests.