Spain begins LTE spectrum auction process

Spain has begun its wireless spectrum auction process with operators bidding to take a chunk of the valuable radio waves that will be used to provide next generation mobile services. The Spanish government hopes the auction will raise €2bn (US$2.9bn), which would help Spain reduce its heavy budget deficit, which is currently the third largest in the EU.

Telefonica, Vodafone and France Telecom are the three biggest players taking part in the auction, but a total of 11 companies are involved in the process. 270MHz of spectrum is up for grabs, with 58 blocks available in the 800MHz, 900MHz and 2.6GHz frequency bands. The intention is to boost competition with smaller operators gaining access to spectrum, in the hope that it will lower end user prices and raise network quality.

The results will be known 10-15 days from the start of the auction the Spanish Industry Ministry told news agency Bloomberg. Reports of the latest bids will be posted on the ministry’s website, indicating the price and the blocks auctioned, without providing the name of the operators.

Spain’s auction takes place ahead of those in Italy and Switzerland, with the UK’s scheduled for early 2012.

France recently began its spectrum auction process but the process has been dogged by reports that its LTE network could block digital terrestrial television, with Bouygues Telecom suggesting that LTE licensees pay compensation to viewers whose service is interrupted. In the UK, a report from regulator Ofcom suggested that correcting potential interference from LTE base stations could cost as much as £100m.

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