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Germany kicks of 700 MHz spectrum auction

Bundesnetzagentur_logoGerman regulator, the Bundesnetzagentur, yesterday kicked off its auction of the 700 MHz spectrum, which is being reallocated on a Europe-wide basis from broadcast to mobile broadband use.

In the first of a wave of anticipated 700 MHz auctions from European Union countries, Germany is allowing bids from Telefónica Germany, Telekom Deutschland and Vodafone in what is expected to be a multi-round process.

“Frequencies in the 700 MHz band have so far been used for terrestrial television. The switch to DVB-T2 means that they will be freed up and can be used for mobile broadband,” said the Bundesnetzagentur, which is making an early bid to reallocate the band.

“Network operators will be able to roll out high speed internet using relatively few base stations to those areas that are currently under-served. The Bundesnetzagentur’s goal is to use these frequencies to achieve almost complete nationwide provision of the population with broadband internet access – as is already the case with mobile voice telephony. For this reason the frequency usage rights include a coverage obligation of 98% of the population.”

The 700 MHz band is being auctioned off along with spectrum in the 900 MHz, 1800 MHz and 1.5 GHz bands for mobile and fixed communications.

Currently 900 MHz and 1800 MHz form the basis of Germany’s existing mobile communications network, especially nationwide mobile voice communication. However, the Bundesnetzagentur said that this spectrum should also be used in the future for broadband internet access.

Plans to reallocate the 700 MHz band from terrestrial broadcasting to wireless broadband in region one (Europe, Africa and the Middle East) were first set in motion at the World Radiocommunications Conference in 2012.

Last year, the European Commission’s ‘Lamy Report’ recommended that the 700 MHz spectrum allocation should take place across Europe by 2020 – plus or minus two years – allowing for individual countries to plan and execute their own reallocations of the band. The UK’s 700 MHz auction is expected at some point during the current parliament.