The auction of 700MHz spectrum in France raised a total of €2.8 billion after 11 rounds of bidding, with Orange and Iliad’s Free Mobile securing the most spectrum.
The two companies bought two 5MHz spectrum blocks each, while Numericable-SFR and Bouygues both landed one. Regulator Arcep said the allocations were sold for €466 million apiece.
The watchdog confirmed the results in a statement, with proceeds just exceeding the minimum price of €2.5 billion set when the process was first announced in June.
Caps set by regulators did not permit any one operator to win three blocks in total, which is seen as a market measure to help the country’s smallest player Iliad.
Following the award, Iliad said Free Mobile now holds a total of 55MHz in 3G/4G frequencies, adding that it has “every intention of continuing to drive the market for the benefit of consumers”.
Orange targets 5G
In its own announcement, Orange welcomed the results, stating that the auction “represents a major milestone for its development in France and is an essential industrial investment to reinforce its position as leader in very high speed mobile broadband”.
Much sought after 700MHz spectrum is being freed up in France by the country’s television broadcasters, with operators hoping to put it to use to boost coverage in remote areas and in buildings.
Orange said the frequencies will also be used for the introduction of 5G “once this technology becomes available”.
Orange added that its €932 million investment for 10MHz of spectrum “corresponds to the average amount paid for low frequency 4G spectrum in major European countries, and is close to the amount paid by Orange for its 800MHz frequencies in 2011”.
The company’s European chief hinted to Mobile World Live last month that the conclusion of the 700MHz spectrum could lead to consolidation in the market.