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Finnish telcos start playing around with mmWave spectrum

Finland has finished its latest 5G spectrum auction in what would appear to be record time and without a single bidding war.

While the price of spectrum varies considerably throughout the world, Finland appears to be one of those countries on the cheaper end of the scale. Some spend billions, scrapping with rivals for weeks, the Finns do not.

Results of Finnish spectrum auction
Telco Band Investment
Elisa 25.1-25.9 GHz €7,000,000
Telia 25.9-26.7 GHz €7,000,000
DNA 26.7-27.5 GHz €7,000,000

With each of the telcos paying the minimum price for the assets, the Finns are in a very enviable (and affordable) position. As one of the few markets which have auctioned off spectrum in the low-, mid- and high-spectrum bands, the telcos should be able to deliver the 5G experience which has been promised for years.

In the mid-band spectrum frequencies, the auction was completed in October 2018 with each operator collecting its own 130 MHz block. There was seemingly a bit of a bidding war here, with Telia paying the most for its 3410-3540 MHz slot at €30.3 million, while DNA paid €21 million for frequencies in 3670-3800 MHz.

For 700 MHz, each operator collected four 5 MHz blocks with Telia spending €22.3 million, while Elisa and DNA paid €22 million each. Telia might have spend a bit more than the other two, but the full suite of spectrum auctions hardly broke the bank account for the Finnish telcos.

The Finns should be applauded for the conservatism, and perhaps should be giving some advice to other nations. The Italians, for example, in a moment of madness or forgetting that the Euro had actually replaced the Lira, managed to spend €6.55 billion on the low- and mid- frequency bands. Italy certainly is bigger than Finland, but not x150 larger…

Aside from the cost, perhaps the most interesting element of this experiment is the application of mmWave in conjunction with the low- and mid-band assets. The US is one of the few counties attempting to make mmWave work, but it is doing so without the other spectrum bands. It has been a damp squid, but hopefully the Finns can prove there is some value in the higher frequencies.

  Telia Elisa DNA
Low band 723-733 MHz/778-788 MHz 703-713 MHz/758-768 MHz 713-723 MHz/768-778 MHz
€22.33 million €22 million €22 million
Mid band 3410-3540 MHz 3540-3670 MHz 3670-3800 MHz
€30.3 million €26.3 million €21 million
High band 25.9-26.7 GHz 25.1-25.9 GHz 26.7-27.5 GHz
€7 million €7 million €7 million
Total investment €59.63 million €55.3 million €50 million

Telecoms.com Poll:

How critical is mid-band spectrum in delivering 5G services?

  • If you don't have it, you will never have an attractive 5G offering (66%, 81 Votes)
  • Very important for the moment, but will fade behind mmWave in the future (15%, 18 Votes)
  • It is overhyped (11%, 13 Votes)
  • The industry should be paying more attention to mmWave (6%, 7 Votes)
  • Meh (2%, 3 Votes)

Total Voters: 122

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One comment

  1. Avatar Professor Peter Curwen 09/06/2020 @ 3:38 pm

    It is worth remembering that Finland gave away its 3G licences and although the LTE licences were auctioned, they raised far less than in Norway and Sweden – having three incumbents with reasonably equal market shares accounts for at least part of this. In other words, Finland is something of the exception rather than the rule where spectrum allocations are concerned. The mmWave spectrum was so cheap – less than $0.001//MHz/pop – that it could simply be left undeveloped.

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