Iliad, TIM and Vodafone spend €2bn on Italian 700MHz spectrum for 5G

14 September 2018 | Alan Burkitt-Gray

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Italy has received winning bids worth €2.8 billion in its 5G auction, with three companies winning spectrum in the 700MHz band for just over €2 billion.

The government said that yesterday, the first day of the auction, saw an increase of €345 million in the initial bids, and more bidding is going on today.

TIM will not to be able to use its spectrum on the 700MHz band until 2022, the company said in a statement. But then “the 5G ecosystem will be widespread, connecting billions of smart objects – cars, public transport, domestic meters and the control elements of water and gas networks, bins, street lamps, buildings and all what is related to smart cities”.

The company, formerly Telecom Italia, said: “These frequencies will also sustain the growth of data consumption from video services, such as virtual and augmented reality, video surveillance and telemedicine services in the most challenging conditions.”

The Ministry of Economic Development, which is conducting the auction, said it had received bids from Iliad, Fastweb, Wind Tre, Vodafone and TIM.

Iliad, owned by the company that runs Free Mobile in France, won spectrum in the 700MHz band for €676 million. Vodafone also won spectrum in the band, for an estimated €683 million. TIM spent €680 million for 10MHz on the 700MHz band.

There is also an auction on the 3.5GHz band. “The competition … appears lively,” said the ministry.

TIM said that spectrum in the 700MHz band “will ensure extensive 5G coverage outside the metropolitan city areas and in indoor environments”.

TIM also has spectrum in the 800MHz and 900MHz bands, “which already ensure the supply of UBB [ultra broadband] services to more than 98% of the population”, said the company.

“The new 700 MHz frequencies will allow TIM to serve the entire Italian territory, bringing UBB services both in rural and digital divide areas and in indoor areas that are particularly challenging for mobile coverage, such as buildings in the historic city centres, optimising investments on the network.”

The company added: “These frequencies will also sustain the growth of data consumption from video services, such as virtual and augmented reality, video surveillance and telemedicine services in the most challenging conditions. Tens of billions of devices and sensors with mobile connection that will produce an ever-increasing amount of data for the evolution of the gigabit society over the next 20 years and beyond.”

The 700MHz spectrum licences will run until 2037. Until now the band has been used for terrestrial television.