The Dutch government has published the details of the long-awaited auction of the 3.5 GHz band for mobile services. The reserve prices set the minimum proceeds at EUR 170 million. Interested bidders have four weeks to apply for participation in the auction, with bidding expected to take place in the spring and the licences available for use from August.

Three blocks of 60 MHz will be available, each with a starting price of EUR 39.22 million in the main auction. In the second round, another 12 lots of 10 MHz will be auctioned, at EUR 4.36 million each. A third round of bidding is also planned for operators to obtain specific places in the frequency band. Details of the bidders and their offers will not be disclosed until after the auction. 

The reserve prices are based on a benchmark of prices achieved in other European auctions in recent years. They include a small discount to account for the delayed release of the frequencies for mobile services, due to the dispute with Inmarsat over vacating the spectrum.

Under an agreement struck with Inmarsat late last year, the satellite operator has vacated the spectrum it uses in the north of the Netherlands as of 01 February, according to the Dutch ministry for economic affairs, which is organising the auction. The company is moving the emergency and safety services provided for the maritime sector from its site in Burum, Netherlands to a new location in Greece.

The auction covers the range 3,450–3,750 MHz. The government reserved 50MHz adjacent to each end of this range for private networks, with applications opened already in December for those frequencies. Caps on each operator’s acquired holdings were set already in 2019 under the general mobile policy. 

Extra 5G capacity

The extra spectrum is expected to provide a significant boost to 5G services in the Netherlands. While all three operators launched 5G networks following the auction of the 700 MHz band in 2020, they have been awaiting the mid-band resources to densify their coverage and develop full standalone 5G services. 

The news was welcomed by the operator Odido, which said the extra spectrum will support increased capacity and speeds and a better 5G experience for customers. The uncertainty over availability of the 3.5 GHz band had lasted too long, said Margreet Hoekstra, Chief Legal and Regulatory Affairs at Odido, adding that the frequencies are needed to ensure Dutch networks remain among the top worldwide.

Original article can be seen at: