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Switzerland Calls 5G Spectrum Auction for January 2019

The Swiss telecom regulator has called a 5G spectrum auction for January 2019. Operators interested in bidding for the frequencies in the 700 MHz, 1,400 MHz, 2,600 MHz and 3.5 GHz bands have until 05 October to file an application with Bakom.

The licences will run for 15 years and be technology neutral. The regulator ComCom said it designed the available lots so the existing three operators Swisscom, Salt and Sunrise can each obtain the necessary frequencies, while including spectrum caps to prevent hoarding and open the auction to other interested commercial parties.

The auction will take place slightly later than planned, after earlier being slated for the second half of 2018. This follows further consultation by ComCom after the operators called for changesin the format.

700 MHz band most expensive

The auction includes six blocks of 2×5 MHz in the 700 MHz FDD band. Each operator is limited to acquiring a maximum three of these lots, and two operators together cannot acquire more than five lots if a third operator is interested in a block.

There will also be three lots of 1×5 MHz in the 700 MHz supplementary downlink band, as well as 18 lots of 1×5 MHz in the 1400 MHz SDL band. A block of 2×5 MHz in the 2,600 MHz band, leftover from the last auction in 2012, will also be put up for sale.

For the 3.5-3.8 GHz band, newly opened to mobile services, a total of 15 blocks of 20 MHz each will be available. Each operator can acquire a maximum six of the 15 lots.

The reserve price for the 700 MHz FDD band, which is particularly attractive for the operators, was notably set at twice the minimum prescribed by the Federal Council, to reflect the demand, ComCom said. Each block will sell for a minimum CHF 16.8 million. While this will boost the proceeds for the state, the aim is not to maximise the return, but to ensure a good distribution of spectrum for the operators and quality telecom services for end-users, the regulator said.

The other reserve prices were set at CHF 4.2 million per SDL block, CHF 5.8 million for the 2,600 MHz block, and CHF 1.68 million for each lot in the 3.5-3.8 GHz range. That means total minimum proceeds of CHF 220 million (EUR 189 million) for the auction.

The full details of the auction, which will take the simple clock format, will be published in the federal gazette on 10 July, as well as on the website of Ofcom. Applicants must submit details on the maximum amount of frequencies they hope to obtain and a bank guarantee to participate in the auction. To prevent collusion, the number and names of bidders will not be announced until after the auction is completed. – Telecompaper

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