Finland’s first 5G auction at the 3.5 GHz band (3.4 – 3.8 GHz) ended today after not more than two or three days of bidding. Unsurprisingly, the winners are Telia, Elisa and DNA as follows:
- Telia, licence A: 3410 – 3540 MHz
- Elisa, licence B: 3540 – 3670 MHz
- DNA, licence C: 3670 – 3800 MHz
Telia and Elisa ended up paying a bit more than the reserve prices: Telia paid a total of 30 M€ (7 M€ above the reserve price) while Elisa paid 26 M€ (5 M€ above the reserve price). DNA paid not more than the reserve price, 21 M€, for licence C. The frequencies are available from 1 January 2019 onwards and operations must be started within 2 years. However, there are no coverage obligations. Since there is another initiative to enable use of 5G in the 900 MHz, 1800 MHz and 2100 MHz bands, there may be no special hurry in building coverage in the 3.5 GHz band. In short, the outcome was an expected one and the auction did not change the structure of the Finnish mobile market in any way.
As described in a previous post, the bands depicted above are so called primary blocks and each of them is divided into two secondary blocks, one in the lower part (3410 – 3600 MHz) and one in the upper part (3600 – 3800 MHz). This division is due to geographic usage restrictions in the upper band; in this way each operator gets access to 60 – 70 MHz of readily usable frequencies in the lower part as well as to 60 – 70 MHz of restricted frequencies in the upper part. Restrictions may differ from band to band that may explain the differences in valuation; however, details of the differences are somewhat unclear to us at the moment.