Germany’s EUR5 billion auction of digital dividend spectrum can go ahead next year as planned despite complaints from the European Union and the country’s smaller operators, reports Reuters. The news agency notes that the advisory council of Germany’s Federal Network Agency (FNA) has agreed that the auction can take place in the first half of 2010. The move follows news yesterday that European Commissioner Viviane Reding had written to the FNA citing concerns that the digital frequency auction could favour larger players. Smaller operators E-Plus and O2 had earlier called on the regulator to ensure fair access to the frequencies for all mobile operators by limiting the bidding rights for the larger players.
The German government is keen to allocate frequencies in the digital dividend band – being freed up by the move from analogue to digital TV – for mobile broadband use. Bloomberg reports that, in a market of four mobile operators, there can only be three winners of the Digital Dividend spectrum auction under current terms. “Whoever comes out of the auction empty-handed will have to ask themselves if it wouldn’t be worth packing up and selling their German operations,” commented Torsten Gerpott, professor of telecommunications at the Mercator School of Management at Duisburg-Essen University. Earlier this summer the European Commission opened a formal consultation period concerning the release of digital dividend spectrum as part of a plan to develop an EU-wide roadmap for the switch from analogue to digital TV, which is scheduled to complete in 2012. For more information on this market sector in general, see here.