Whenever I look at how the mobile space has developed in the US and how it could be so different to Europe, I easily forget that over here, very strange and incomprehensible things have happened as well. A very good case in point was the UMTS action a decade ago that yielded a total of around 50 billion Euros in spectrum license fees to the German government from the 6 winners of the auction.
While the 4 incumbents subsequently built their UMTS networks, the two new entries spectacularly failed and not only lost all those billions spend on licenses but also the little money that was left after the auction for actually building the networks. And it's not that the backers of those two newcomers should not have known better as those were Telefonica (Spain), Sonera (Finalnd) and France Telecom. The story of Quam, backed by Telefonica and Sonera can be found in this recent article. Google offers a handy translation to English here.
The article is very informative but I still have the same questions I had before: How could they have spent all those billions and then run out of money... Incomprehensible.