Slovak 5G auction – 700MHz goes to three operators

Slovak 5G auction successfully finished and the regulator awarded spectrum in the band 700 MHz and some in the 900 MHz and 1800 MHz bands. Orange Slovensko, Slovak Telekom and O2 Slovakia won equally 2×10 MHz in the 700 MHz band. This way they will be able to deploy 5G networks.

On 23 November, the Slovak regulator announced results of the spectrum auction. Although the auction began in spring already, the bidding was significantly delayed.

The regulator set the original start date of the auction on 22 June. However, due to political intervention the bidding began only in November.

Operators competed mainly for the 5G pioneer band, 700 MHz. In addition, the regulator distributed unused spectrum in the 900 MHz and 1800 MHz bands.

Total proceeds of the 5G frequency auction in Slovakia exceed €100m. The major part of the price will go for the spectrum suitable for building 5G networks. Three bigger operators won equal amount of spectrum but they will pay different amounts of money. The bidding resulted in the following prices for the 700 MHz spectrum:

  • Orange: €33.633m
  • O2 Slovakia: €32m
  • Slovak Telekom: €32.106m

The fourth operator, Swan Mobile, operating under the brand 4ka, did not win any 700 MHz spectrum. However, the market expected that. The operator, namely signalled that it would not be in a financial condition to buy the expensive resource.

Despite having acquired no spectrum in the 5G pioneer band, 4ka did not end up with empty hands after the auction. It acquired 2×3 MHz in the 1800 MHz band, like other two operators – O2 Slovakia and Slovak Telekom. The single 900 MHz abstract block with the size of 2×4.2 MHz will belong to O2 Slovakia.

After the 5G spectrum auction

The regulator will issue both the 900 MHz and 1800 MHz licences valid until the end of 2025, while the 700 MHz licences will be valid until the end of 2040. The regulator wants to align the expiry dates of the old and new licences in the historical GSM bands.

With regard to the fragmentation of the 900 MHz and 1800 MHz bands, operators will have to find a way for their refarming. The reorganisation of the spectrum has been necessary since 2013. Despite of that, operators were not able to agree on a voluntary refarming since then. However, prior to the Slovak 5G auction, they had signalled to the regulator their preparedness to negotiate on refarming. As a result, they would be able to use the spectrum more efficiently also for newer, faster technologies.

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