Belgian 800MHz auction raises €360m

Belgian_FlagBelgium’s three mobile operators, Belgacom, Mobistar and KPN-owned Base have each received 2 x 10MHz of 800MHz spectrum in the country’s latest spectrum auction, at a price of €120m per allocation. There were no other entrants in the auction, which was run by Belgian regulator BIPT.

The licences require that LTE services be available to 30 per cent of the population within two years, 70 per cent within four years and 98 per cent of the population within six years. Mobistar, which is the only one of the three Belgian operators that has yet to launch LTE, won the licence with the most demanding coverage obligations, which will require it to provide coverage to an additional 60 cities, mostly in Wallonia, offering 98 per cent population coverage of this area within three years.

Belgacom launched LTE at 1800MHz in November 2012, and had achieved 35 per cent population coverage by early June 2013, according to the Global Mobile Suppliers Association’s Evolution to LTE report. Belgacom said that it expects to achieve 50 per cent population coverage for LTE by the end of this year. KPN’s Base launched LTE1800 last month in 15 Belgian cities.

The latest spectrum allocation will enable the operators to fill out their coverage and provide higher quality in-building penetration, they said. In a position paper released to coincide with the auction results, KPN said: “The 800MHz license will enable high quality indoor coverage that is at least on a par with Wi-Fi deployments. Customers will enjoy continuous 4G LTE services wherever they are.”

Belgacom led the Belgian mobile market at the end of Q3, according to figures from Informa’s WCIS+, with 5.1 million subscriptions. Mobistar held second place with 4.4 million subscriptions, ahead of Base with 2.3 million.

Last month the Austrian LTE spectrum auction raised €2bn through the sale of 2 x 140MHz of spectrum at 800MHz, 900 MHZ and 1800Mz.

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