Belgian telecoms companies Belgacom and Mobistar and Dutch KPN's BASE said on Tuesday they bought licences to operate super-fast 4G mobile services in Belgium for 120 million euros ($161.25 million) each.
The 20-year licences for 800 Megahertz (MHz) spectrum were auctioned by the Belgian telecoms regulator, which had already said at the start of October that there were three bidders for three licences.
Belgacom (Brussels, Belgium), which launched a 4G service in November 2012, said the new license would allow it to accelerate the roll-out across the country. It aims to reach half of Belgium's 11 million population by the end of the year.
BASE (Brussels, Belgium) launched its 4G service last month via the existing 1.8 Gigahertz (GHz) band and aims to have a full nationwide service by the end of 2014.
Mobistar (Evere, Belgium) plans to launch its 4G service in 2014.
Cable operator Telenet, which uses Mobistar's network for its mobile services, did not make a bid.
A similar auction in the Netherlands in December 2012 opened the door for Swedish group Tele 2 to enter the market as the country's fourth mobile operator and raised 3.8 billion euros.
Fourth generation services enable ultra-fast mobile data traffic, allowing users for example to watch television on smartphones, tablets or laptops at a quality similar to that of a fixed line.
The speed is some 10 times faster than available on the prevailing 3G networks.
($1 = 0.7442 euros)
(Reporting by Philip Blenkinsop; editing by Robin Emmott and Jane Merriman)