The Spanish government confirmed that it will delay a planned auction of 5G spectrum due to the outbreak of the novel coronavirus in the country.

The government expected to award frequencies in the 700 MHz band, which had been previously used by Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) services.

The government informed the European Commission that a new date for the spectrum auction will be announced once the measures adopted by the government to contain the pandemic come to an end.

The Spanish government confirmed that it will set a new deadline for the 700 MHz band, depending on the eventual end-date for emergency measures including restrictions on people’s movements.

This tender, when it takes place, will represent the second auction of 5G-suitable spectrum in Spain. In July 2018, the Spanish government raised a total of EUR 438 million through the sale of 5G frequencies by auctioning spectrum in the 3.6 GHz to 3.8 GHz range, which will be key for the launch of commercial 5G services in the country. The government had set a reserve price of EUR 100 million for the 5G spectrum.

Spanish carriers Movistar, Orange, Vodafone all acquired 5G spectrum after 34 rounds of bidding. These carriers submitted bids for a total of 200 megahertz of spectrum, which was sold under 20-year licenses for lots of five megahertz at a minimum price of EUR 2.5 million each.

Orange acquired a total of 60 megahertz of spectrum for EUR 132 million. The operator already holds 40 megahertz in this band.

Telefonica, which operates in the mobile segment through its Movistar brand, purchased 50 megahertz of spectrum for EUR 107 million. The company already had 40 megahertz in the 3.5 GHz band.

Meanwhile, Vodafone acquired a total of 90 megahertz for EUR 198 million.

Masmovil took part in the auction but did not acquire spectrum in the process.

Other European government have recently postponed spectrum auctions due to the outbreak of the COVID-19.

Earlier this month, French telecoms regulator Arcep put on hold plans to carry out a 5G spectrum auction due to the outbreak of COVID-19 in the country. The spectrum auction was initially scheduled to take place in April. In November 2019, Arcep said that it would award frequencies in the 3.4-3.8 GHz band and that the total allocation would be for 310 MHz of spectrum.It also said it would include four blocks of 50 megahertz and the rest would be blocks of 10 megahertz.

Austria and Portugal have also recently postponed 5G auctions due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Austrian regulator was expecting to award 5G spectrum in the 700 MHz, 1,500 MHz and 2,100 MHz bands next month. The Austrian government is yet to announce the new date for this 5G spectrum auction.

Meanwhile, Portuguese telecommunications regulator put on hold the country’s planned 5G auction, previously scheduled to take place some time between April and June this year.

The regulator had said that the country’s major operators, MEO, NOS, Vodafone, and Dense Air, had all petitioned for a suspension of the process in light of the “current exceptional situation in which Portugal finds itself, and all the constraints that result, as well as the unpredictability of the situation and the inability to assess how it will evolve.”

The auction was scheduled to allocate licences for the 700 MHz, 900 MHz, 1.8 GHz, 2.1 GHz, 2.6 GHz, and 3.6 GHz bands.


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