New steps in Spain’s mobile spectrum auction.

On June 29th, Spain’s Industry, Tourism and Commerce Ministry launched its mobile spectrum auction across three frequency bands: 800 MHz, 900 MHz and 2.6 GHz.

There are eleven operators finally taking part in the auction: in addition to the three big Spanish mobile operators (Vodafone, Orange and Telefónica), Jazztel, the cable operator Ono and six regional operators (Euskaltel, R Cable y Telecomunicaciones Galicia, Telecom Castilla-La Mancha, Telecable Asturias, Obras Públicas y Telecomunicaciones de Navarra and Consorcio de Telecomunicaciones Avanzadas de Murcia) will also bid to take a chunk of the valuable radio waves that will be used to provide next generation mobile services.

Daily reports about the latest bids can be consulted on the Spanish Industry Ministry’s website (http://www.mityc.es/telecomunicaciones/es-ES/Paginas/subasta_espectro.aspx), indicating the price and the blocks auctioned, although the names of leading bidders will not be revealed as part of the regular updates. The whole offer, which starting prize was set to 1453 million euro for the 58 frequency blocks, has raised to 1614 million on July 20th, 386 less than the 2000 million euro initially expected by the Spanish government. The final amount will be also lower than the one reached in other countries, like Germany, where its auction raised 4300 million euro.

During the last days, there were no significant changes on the bids involving the blocks that remain free of offer. Besides, the bids are focusing on the 2.6 GHz band, where the starting prizes are lower, enhancing competition.

On the other hand, the most conflictive block, located at the lower part of the 800 MHz frequency band and emerged after the Digital Dividend has been sold. This channel could cause harmful interference (which must be solved by mobile operators) due to its proximity to the digital television band.

In Spain, the debate regarding television and mobile services coexistence has not gained yet all the value it deserves. In other European countries it represents one of the main problems in spectrum management that must be solved. In particular, the British regulatory authority Ofcom has recently opened a public consultation. The proposals received will be aimed to solve the coexistence issue of future mobile services in the 800 MHz band with the adjacent DTT use and the technical conditions for use of the 800 MHz and 2.6 GHz band. In this regard, Gradiant is currently following this consultation, keeping an open research line in order to anticipate those coexistence problems that will come out with the arrival of the Digital Dividend.

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