After a total of 13 weeks, the longest German spectrum auction has finally ended. The four participants Vodafone, Telekom, Telefónica and 1&1 Drillisch paid a total of 6.6 billion euros for the 5G frequencies. In the 497th round of the auction, all bidders could finally settle.
420 MHz were auctioned in total. “We received the spectrum we wanted. After a long auction, clarity now prevails. Now we will build a first-class 5G network for Germany”, says Dirk Wössner, Member of the Management Board of Telekom Deutschland. Telekom also invested the most. The four frequency blocks in the 2 GHz band and nine frequency packages in the 3.6 GHz band cost Telekom 2.175 billion euros. Vodafone was able to purchase the same package for 1.88 billion euros. Telefónica followed with 1.425 billion euros for 90 MHz and 1&1 Drillisch with 1.07 billion euros for the remaining 70 MHz.
The hard-fought bidding battle
However, telecommunications companies still have complaints. After last winter’s lawsuits and this year’s roller coaster ride, all four of them draw a similar conclusion. “The course of auction showed that its design as well as the insufficient amount of available frequencies drove up the costs. From the consumer’s point of view and for Germany as a business location, this investment would be much better spent on network expansion,” says Valentina Daiber, Telefónica’s Chief Officer for Legal & Corporate Affairs.
In fact, the LTE frequency auction in 2010 ended similarly. As a result, Germany is now far behind in 4G cellular network expansion compared to its European neighbours. One dead zone follows the other and the fiber-optic expansion is progressing only slowly as well. After the 5G auction, history is threatening to repeat itself.
One party of the auction is pleased at least. “The end of the auction is also the kick-off for 5G in Germany. I am happy that four companies have bought frequencies at the auction and are entering the competition to expand the 5G network. The frequencies are to be used not only for the new 5G mobile communications standard, but also for better cellular coverage in Germany”, says Jochen Homann, President of the Federal Network Agency.