MAINZ, Germany (Reuters) – Germany has launched its 5G mobile spectrum auction on Tuesday, finally, after a court threw out legal challenges and regulators resistance against the AMERICAN push for a ban on Chinese vendors of network to build for the next generation of networks.
Jochen Homann, President of the German Federal Network Agency (Bnetza) is behind a stopwatch for the symbolic start prior to the auction of spectrum for 5G services, the federal network agency headquarters in Mainz, Germany, March 19, 2019. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach
Four companies are vying for the 41 blocks of spectrum in the 2 GHz, 3.6 GHz bands that are suitable for running ‘connected’ factories – a priority for Europe’s largest economy as it tries to remain competitive in the digital age.
“It is important for us that we have a focus on the industry and on a better coverage,” Jochen Homann, head of the Federal Network Agency (Bnetza) said ahead of the auction.
Germany’s three network operators – Deutsche Telekom, Vodafone and Telefonica Deutschland – are admitted to the auction.
Also part 1&1 and Drillisch, a mobile virtual operator controlled by United Internet that wants to run a fourth network.
Bid teams surrendered their smartphones at the entry of the former barracks in the south-west of the city of Mainz, where the auction is held. They offer through a secure network of separate rooms and can only discuss their strategy head office via fax.
All of the 41 blocks will be auctioned at the same time, with the results posted online after each round. The government hopes to raise billions from the auction of a 4G auction in 2015 collected 5.1 billion euros ($5.8 billion) – what is the chance to go weeks.
After months of uncertainty, the auction went ahead after a court last week threw out lawsuits from the operators, who had complained that a requirement to provide high-speed coverage to 98 percent of the households by 2022 was too heavy.
Supervisors also clarifies ground-rules applicable to network equipment vendors following US pressure on the allies in the ban China’s Huawei Technologies on the national security garden.
Germany chose instead to impose stricter compliance requirements on all suppliers, creating a level playing field and allaying the concerns of the operators that use Huawei equipment – that they would have to replace parts of their networks at high cost.
“The same rules apply, regardless of whether you are from Sweden or China,” Homann told reporters.
Reporting by Douglas Busvine; Editing by Kirsten Donovan