The Spanish government said it has received requests from telecommunications operators Telefónica, Vodafone and Orange to participate in the upcoming auction of 700MHz frequencies.
In the auction, a total of 75 MHz divided into 60 MHz for upstream and downstream communications, and 15MHz for downstream only, will be tendered, distributed in seven state-wide concessions. Four concessions correspond to two 2×10 MHz blocks and two 2×5 MHz blocks, in the paired band 703-733 MHz and 758-788 MHz for upstream and downstream communications (FDD). Also, the government will award three concessions in the 738-753 MHz band, each of which will assign the use of a 5 MHz block for downstream communications only (SDL).
The Spanish government confirmed that the the auction will begin before July 21, 2021 and will take place over the Internet, using a secure Electronic Auction Platform (PES). Before July 19, a training session on the use of the Platform will be held for companies that have submitted bids for the tender.
The Spanish government aims for 75% of the population to have 5G coverage by 2025 through the bands that have been identified as priorities: 694-790 MHz, 3.4-3.8 GHz and 24.25-27.5 GHz.
In February, the Spanish Ministry of Economic Affairs and Digital Transformation had awarded the remaining two 10-megahertz blocks of spectrum in the 3.5 GHz band to local carriers Orange and Telefonica. The Spanish government had awarded frequencies in the 3.5 GHz band in two previous phases.
Orange and Telefónica were the only two operators that took part in this last auction for the 3.5 GHz band, each paying the starting price of 21 million euros (currently $24.9 million) for a 10-megahertz block.
Following this recent tender, Orange now holds 110 megahertz of spectrum in the 3.5 GHz band; Telefonica 100 megahertz; Vodafone 90 meghertz; and MásMóvil 80 megahertz, the ministry said.
Orange is already offering 5G services in 442 towns and cities in 48 provinces across the country. According to the European operator, its 5G network infrastructure already reaches 28% of the Spanish population.
Orange had said it expects its 5G network to reach 50% of the population by the end of this year and 90% of the population by 2022.
Orange is currently offering 5G in the country through a combination of non-standalone (NSA) 5G and Dynamic Spectrum Sharing (DSS) technologies. The operator launched commercial 5G services in Spain in September of 2020, using equipment provided by Swedish vendor Ericsson.
Meanwhile, Telefónica recently said it has extended the coverage of its 5G network to over 80% of the country’s population as of the end of the first quarter of 2021, having installed more than 4,300 nodes that offer coverage to more than 37 million inhabitants.
The telco said that its 5G network currently reaches 1,253 towns and cities across Spain.
The company launched its 5G service in September 2020 and had committed to deploy 5G in 921 towns and cities covering 75% of the Spanish population by the end of 2020.