Belgian 5G auction launched

On 1 June 2022, the telecoms regulator BIPT officially launched the Belgian 5G auction. The long-awaited distribution of several spectrum bands is the most important spectrum auction in Belgium in the past ten years. The minimum proceeds from the auction will amount to €780m.

The total portfolio of the frequencies suitable for 5G consists of the following six spectrum bands: 700 MHz, 900 MHz, 1400 MHz, 1800 MHz, 2100 MHz and 3.4-3.8 GHz. Operators currently use some of them for 3G and 4G networks.

While all bands are suitable for 5G, operators deploy various bands in regions with different geographic characteristics. The higher frequencies provide capacity for urban areas with high data demand. In contrast, the 700 MHz band is better for coverage of vast less densely populated areas.

The regulator offers the spectrum divided in 5 MHz blocks.

Five bidders in the Belgian 5G auction

After BIPT published the call for applications at the beginning of the year, a total of five bidders qualified for the auction. They include three national MNOs – Proximus, Telenet and Orange and two new entrants – the Flemish Cegeka/Citymesh and NRB, an IT company based near Liege.

Belgium also has operators without their own networks. Operators such as Base, Scarlet or Mobile Vikings can still provide services if they lease the infrastructure from the above five candidates.

On 1 June, the bidding in the Belgian 5G auction began for all spectrum bands except for the 1400 MHz band which BIPT will auction later. BIPT set the reserve prices in cooperation with an independent consultant. They based the calculation on the valuation of the existing licences held by three operators.

Cap and reservations

BIPT set a spectrum cap. One bidder can win a maximum of 40% of the total spectrum in a given band. In addition, to promote competition, the regulator reserved a part of the spectrum for new entrants.

However, BIPT also reserved a part of the spectrum for the established operators. Ten blocks across all spectrum bands will sell for a maximum of a bit more than €73m each.

Previous auctions in Belgium

The minimum proceeds from the ongoing auction will certainly amount to at least €780m, i. e. the reserve price. However, the final price can be even higher.

The proceeds from the previous auctions in Belgium were much lower. The 4G auction in 2011 brought €360m, while another one in 2013 additional €80m.

Specure takes part in the auction preparation and consulting as a member of the consortium with Auctiometrix.

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