Multiband spectrum auction in Belgium concluded

Belgian regulator BIPT announced the end of the multiband spectrum auction on 20 July 2022, following the main phase closing on 20 June. We at Specure are happy to have helped our client run a successful spectrum auction and contributed to the smooth procedure. The auction will shape the country’s mobile telecom landscape for the next 20 years.

Multiband spectrum auction launched in June

The main phase of the auction started on 1 June 2022. It ended after three weeks and brought total proceeds of more than €1.2bn.

The pool of the multiband auction consisted of 5G spectrum in the bands 700 MHz and 3600 MHz, as well as the existing 2G and 3G radio spectrum in the bands 900MHz, 1800 MHz and 2100MHz.

Five operators, namely Citymesh Mobile, Network Research Belgium, Orange Belgium, Proximus and Telenet Group, participated in the auction and each succeeded in acquiring part of the spectrum. Please see the detailed assignment of generic lots here.

Two newcomers mark the auction’s success

For a long time, BIPT wanted to attract new mobile players to the market. The auction was a good occasion for that. A newcomer could benefit from an option to buy a pre-reserved spectrum package of 30 MHz duplex in the various radio frequency bands against a payment of €83,340,000.

One of the two newcomers, Citymesh Mobile, exercised the option at the end of March 2022. The owners of Citymesh Mobile are Citymesh (51%) and RCS & RDS (49%). Digi Communications is the main shareholder of the latter.

The second newcomer was Network Research Belgium.

Reserved rights for the established big three

The three existing mobile operators, Orange, Proximus and Telenet, have also exercised the option to acquire the radio spectrum reserved for them allocated automatically against payment of €73,000,800 each, in order to guarantee the continuity of their current services on the mobile market. The proceeds of this reserved spectrum total up to €302,342,400.

Proven multiband spectrum auction format and proceeds

BIPT distributed the lots in two parallel procedures. The bidding for the spectrum in the 700 MHz, 900 MHz, 1800 MHz and 2100 MHz bands ended after 99 rounds, while in the 3600 MHz band it took only 46 rounds.

The proceeds exceeded the reserve price by €468.5m. The final total price of €1,202,192,400 resulted from the successive higher bids during the simultaneous multiple-round ascending auction (SMRA format).

Extra €0.2bn from the final auction

After the completion of the assignment stage of the main phase of the auction, BIPT auctioned 90 MHz in the 1400 MHz frequency band. This band is in particular suitable for supplementary downlink capacity. BIPT set the reserve price for the spectrum at €46.5m.

This final auction, also using SMRA format, ended after 57 rounds and raised €216.54m. That brings the total amount for the two phases of the auction to 1,418,732,400 euros.

For the 700 MHz and the 3600 MHz, the usage rights will apply from 1 September 2022 and for the 1400 MHz from 1 October 2022. The date for the 900 MHz, 1800 MHz and 2100 MHz is currently unknown.

Please see the details of the final assignment of the latest spectrum auction in Belgium here.

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