Deutsche Telekom and Vodafone Germany slammed high prices in the country’s auction of 5G suitable frequencies, which has concluded after 52 days, as four bidders committed to spend a total of €6.6 billion.

In a statement, Germany’s Federal Network Agency announced the conclusion and results of the auction, which kicked-off in March.

The auction comprised of 497 rounds of bidding and will pave the way for the entrance of a fourth operator, 1&1 Drillisch, which spent €1.1 billion on two blocks of 5MHz spectrum in the 2GHz band and five blocks of 10MHz in the 3.6GHz band.

Market leader Deutsche Telekom bid the most, committing a total of €2.2 billion for four blocks in the 2GHz band and nine blocks in the 3.6GHz band. Vodafone will spend €1.9. billion on 90MHz in the 3.6GHz band, along with two blocks of 15MHz and two of 5MHz in the 2.1GHz band.

Telefonica Deutschland bid €1.4 billion for two blocks in the 2.1GHz range and seven blocks in the 3.6GHz band.

Go for 5G
The conclusion of the auction means operators can begin to upgrade networks, a move considered vital to the success of Germany’s economy and its ambitions around smart cities and connected industries.

Jochen Homann, president of the Federal Network Agency, hailed the end of the auction as “the starting gun for 5G in Germany”.

However, the conclusion was swiftly followed by criticism from the major operators regarding the prices and length of the process.

Deutsche Telekom said in a statement the auction left a bitter taste.

“The network rollout in Germany has suffered a significant setback. The price could have been much lower. Once again, the spectrum in Germany is much more expensive than in other countries. Network operators now lack the money to expand their networks,” said board member Dirk Wossner.

Vodafone Germany’s head of operations Hannes Ametsreiter described the auction as a “disaster for Germany”.

“I’m very unhappy about how long the process took and the high price that we as bidders must pay,” he told German newspaper Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung.