Italy’s 5G auction ended on Tuesday, raising €6.5bn for the country’s cash-strapped government.
The unexpectedly fierce battle for spectrum, the airwaves that carry mobile phone signals, raged for 14 days as four networks jostled to dominate the next generation of mobile technology in the Italian market.
The proceeds proved to be more than double what had been expected. While a fillip for Rome’s coffers, the size of the bids has raised concerns about balance sheet pressure on the networks which are already engaged in a price war in Italy.
Telecom Italia said it paid €1.7bn for a 80Mhz block of spectrum in the sought after 3.7Ghz range ideal for 5G. The former state owned network also acquired spectrum at higher and lower bands and spent €2.5bn on spectrum for 5G.
Amos Genish, chief executive of TI, said the spectrum it has acquired would allow it to extend its network leadership in its home market.
Vodafone paid €2.4bn for a large block of spectrum, which spanned across a number of frequencies. Nick Read, in his first week as chief executive of Vodafone, fired a warning shot at governments looking to ramp up the proceeds of spectrum sales.
“It is critical that European governments avoid artificial auction constructs which fail to strike a healthy balance for the industry,” he said.
Iliad, the new entrant that triggered a price war, has also yet to detail how it fared.
Wind Tre, owned by CK Hutchison, said it had paid €517m for a 20Mhz block of 3.7ghz spectrum and some higher band airwaves.
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