LIVE FROM THE EUROPEAN 5G CONFERENCE, BRUSSELS: Mauro Martino, head of Italian regulator Agcom’s office of spectrum management (pictured), defended the country’s maligned 5G auction stating he saw no correlation between the high cost of spectrum and reduced future investment.

When pressed on whether he would recommend the level of pricing imposed by Italy to regulators in other markets, Martino dismissed comments the amount spent in auctions would lead to a reduction in spending by operators elsewhere.

Italy raised €6.5 billion from operators in its 5G auction, though the sum was later criticised by commentators and trade union groups in Italy. It is also a frequent reference point for analysts and operators warning against high auction costs.

“The money paid by the operators is money to all the citizens,” Martino said. “It is up to the government to make the most of the money,” suggesting the amount raised could be used by authorities for targeted spending on infrastructure.

“I don’t see the link between income from the auction and less money for investment,” he added.