Italian operators throw money at 3.7 GHz spectrum

Italian politicians must be loving the country’s ongoing 5G auction, with operators bidding on the 3.7 GHz band like they think they’re still using lira.

One of the fun things about Europe before the euro was the existence of currencies that, due to historical hyperinflation, operated at crazy exchange rates to the pound. Italy was one of the best examples of this and who doesn’t miss going over there and stuffing their wallet with billion lira notes?

That same longing seems to apply to the Italian operators, who have decided to compete with each other, over relatively useless mid frequency spectrum, with such fervent abandon that it’s hard not to conclude they still believe the bill will be settled in the long-abandoned national currency.

A week ago they agreed to pay the going rate for 700 MHz spectrum that is especially handy due to its long range and superior propagation qualities. They also had a few rounds of bidding on higher frequency spectrum and we noted that Wind might want to make sure it gets a nice lot of 3.7 GHz band, since it didn’t get any 700 MHz, and that new-entrant Iliad might also want to grab more than just 20 MHz of 3.7 gig.

The ensuing days apparently saw frenzied bidding for the 3.7 GHz band to roughly triple the level it was a week previously (see table). This means the Italian state is already set to pocket billions of euros more than was forecast at the start of the auction process and there’s still plenty of time to go.

For context read this Light Reading analysis of the auction orgy thus far, which notes that the Spanish and Irish were far more parsimonious than the Italians are being and even the spectrum-hungry UK operators were positively reticent by comparison. The fun starts again this week and who knows what levels it could reach after a weekend on the Grappa.

Italy 5G auction table 2

  • Private Networks in a 5G World

  • 5G Networking Digital Symposium

  • LIVE: Getting the Best out of 5G

  • 5G Ecosystem Digital Symposium

  • 2020 Vision Executive Summit

  • TechXLR8

  • BIG 5G Event

  • 5G World

  • 5G Latin America

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