Competition for Italy's 5G spectrum is likely to be fierce after seven companies were revealed to have entered the forthcoming auction, according to an update from Italy's Ministry of Economic Development.
Mobile operators Iliad, Telecom Italia, Vodafone Italy and Wind Tre will be joined by fixed broadband operators Linkem, Fastweb SpA (Milan: FWB) and Open Fiber.
The auction is unusual in attracting so much interest from outside the existing mobile telecom sector -- recent 5G auctions in South Korea, Spain and the UK have not produced new mobile challengers. (See The Great 5G Spectrum Devaluation, UK's £1.4B '5G' auction looks bad for industry, Spanish 5G Auction Nets €438M for Govt and South Korea's 5G Auction Raises $3.3B.)
Italy, however, will be auctioning spectrum across a variety of bands, and not just the mid-range airwaves that were made available in Spain and the UK.
The government aims to raise €2.5 billion ($2.9 billion) from the sale of 75MHz in the 700MHz band, 200MHz at 3.6-3.8GHz and 1GHz in the 26.5-27.5GHz range.
The very high band spectrum has attracted interest from companies that want to use 5G as a broadband technology in areas that are hard to reach with fiber.
While spectrum in and around 3.5GHz should help to satisfy demand for smartphone services in busier areas, the 700MHz airwaves are ideal for providing wide area coverage.
Because of its propagation qualities, sub-GHz spectrum has tended to attract higher valuations in previous spectrum auctions.
The inclusion of 700MHz airwaves in Italy's forthcoming sale could explain why it is expected to raise more than recent auctions in Spain and the UK.
Spanish authorities generated about €438 million ($508 million) from selling 3.6-3.8GHz spectrum, while UK authorities raised about £1.15 billion ($1.5 billion) from licensing the 3.4GHz band.
Reports indicate two 80MHz and two 20MHz licenses will be sold in the 3.6-3.8GHz bands, and that authorities will divide the high-band spectrum into five 200MHz blocks. Iliad (Euronext: ILD) appears to be the only operator to have confirmed it will bid for 700MHz airwaves.
— Iain Morris, International Editor, Light Reading
This is an edited version of a story that was originally published on Telco Transformation's sister site, Light Reading. To see the full story, click here.