Spain has completed its auction of frequencies in the 26 GHz band, the last remaining priority tier for 5G services, raising just over EUR 36 million, substantially below the EUR 56 million starting price and the EUR 105 million target initially set by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Digital Transformation. The four bidders – Telefonica, Vodafone Spain, Orange Spain and regional operator Globe Operator Telecom – acquired 1,800 MHz of the 2,400 MHz made available in the tender, which went ahead in spite of operator requests for it to be delayed until 2023 or 2024.

In a statement, Telefonica said it invested EUR 20 million to secure the maximum possible 1 GHz of spectrum (5×200 MHz blocks), allowing it to “offer the best 5G features and capacities in spaces with high demand density, such as industrial facilities, business parks, sports venues and leisure venues.” It added that the acquisition would enable the company to consolidate its leadership in 5G services in the residential and business spheres, and in both urban and rural areas.

Orange and Vodafone also released statements confirming the acquisition of 400 MHz each (2×200 MHz), for which they each paid EUR 8 million. Orange said the newly-acquired spectrum would allow it to offer improved 5G connectivity services, complementing its 2×10 MHz in the 700 MHz band and 110 MHz in the 3.5 GHz band, both priority bands for the deployment of the technology, while Orange added that the new spectrum frequencies would above all enable it to deploy dedicated 5G in industrial environments, in line with its goal to accelerate the digital transformation of Spanish businesses.

The tender also saw Valladolid-based regional operator Globe Operator Telecom acquire spectrum in the autonomous community of Castilla-Leon for EUR 200,000, the only regional block allocated out of the 38 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 700 MHz and 3.5 GHz 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.

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