Compared to the UMTS auctions back in the year 2000, LTE frequency auctions seem to be of much less interested to the press. Without much fanfare, France has held its 2.6 GHz frequency auctions and finalized them this week, about one and a half year after similar proceedings in Germany and elsewhere. They are by no accounts the last, however, with LTE spectrum still unassigned in many other European markets, like for example the UK and Italy. According to this report from Telegeography, the following companies have acquired spectrum:
- France Telecom (Orange) got 2x20 MHz of spectrum
- Iliad (Free) also got 2x20 MHz with the highest bid. Iliad is currently building a 3G network with only 2x5 MHz of spectrum available and if they are anything as competitive with their prices as in the fixed line ADSL world, that won't last for long. So the 20 MHz of LTE spectrum is a good investment in the future.
- Bouygues and SFR could each "only" get 15 MHz.
Total money spent on the licenses was just under 1 billion euros. This is significantly more than what resulted from the same auctions in Germany. Here the total amount spent for spectrum in the 2.6 GHz band was roughly 260 million euros (the total result was 4.4 billion euros but most of that money was spent on the 800 MHz digital dividend band). Also interesting that two of the incumbents settled for 2x15 MHz rather than trying to go for the full 2x20 MHz.