Poland’s long-running 4G auction finally came to an end, raising PLN9.23 billion ($2.5 billion) in bids, six times the initial target set by regulator UKE.
According to Reuters, UKE will reveal the final results of the auction, which began back in February, in the coming days. The country’s four operators were vying for 4G spectrum, including Orange, Deutsche Telekom, Polkomtel’s Plus and Play (P4).
Early reports suggest P4, which was recently put up for sale by its Greek owners Olympia Development, has won one 800MHz block and four blocks of 2.6GHz frequencies. P4 and Plus already have access to some 4G frequencies, giving them a head start on rivals Orange and Deutsche Telekom.
Up for grabs in the auction was five 800MHz blocks, as well as 14 blocks of 2.6GHz, with each bidder restricted to no more than two 800MHz blocks and four blocks of 2.6GHz.
The conclusion of the lengthy process will indeed come as a relief to UKE, after its head Magdalena Gaj questioned whether the “market is serious about buying frequencies” following more than 400 rounds of bidding in September.
As prices continued to hike up, way past the PLN1.6 billion originally set by regulators, the government intervened and proposed a deadline to end the process after 115 auction days, which was approved last month.
The proposal was however met with staunch opposition. The country’s operators, mainly P4 and Plus, argued against a change in rules mid-way through the process, with the former threatening legal action.
Under Polish law, when the auction started the process could only end once bidding ceased.
According to analysts, the high auction price could impact the price for phone services for users, as well as weigh on profitability for the operators. Market leader Orange Polska was also seen as most under pressure to secure the spectrum.