Spanish telecommunications provider Masmovil, the country’s fourth largest network operator has decided not to take part in the delayed auction of 26GHz band frequencies for 5G services due to begin this week. Spain’s Ministry of Economic Affairs and Digital Transformation confirmed that the bidders will be Telefonica, Vodafone, Orange and regional firm Globe Operator, with Masmovil refraining from taking part so as not to raise final spectrum prices ahead of its planned merger with Orange.

The ministry confirmed that bidding for 12 nationwide concessions totalling 2,400MHz (12 x 200MHz) at a starting price of EUR 4 million each will begin on 21 December, with 38 regional concessions at starting prices ranging from EUR 7,050 in Ceuta to EUR 715,195 in Andalucia also made available.

The concessions will be granted for a period of 20 years, extendable for another 20. Spain held auctions of 5G-compatible frequencies in the 700MHz and 3.5GHz bands last year and subsequently reordered spectrum in the latter band to ensure operators could count on contiguous frequency blocks for the rollout of 5G.

The 50-50 merger between Masmovil and Orange is expected to close during the second half of 2023 at the latest, with regulators expected to require the entities to hand back spectrum exceeding the limit of 1,000 MHz per operator.

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