Italy’s communications regulator Agcom hit back at criticism the price paid by the country’s operators for spectrum in a recent 5G auction was too high.

“If someone pays a price, to me it’s never excessive, unless that person has a gun pointed to their head,” Reuters quoted Agcom president Angelo Marcello Cardani as saying.

Italy’s 5G auction ended last week and raised €6.5 billion, some €4 billion more than the minimum amount targeted by the government. Vodafone Italia and Telecom Italia each spent €2.4 billion, Iliad Italia €1.2 billion and Wind Tre €517 million.

In a statement, Vodafone Group CEO Nick Read commented that “auctions should be designed to balance fiscal requirements with the need for investment to enable economic development.”

Trade unions have also raised concerns high prices could have an adverse impact on operators which are already in debt, while other observers have said it will hinder investment in infrastructure.

However, Cardani said operators have the expertise and freedom to decide what they deem appropriate to spend, and said the tender was a great success.