Finland has kicked off the process of awarding spectrum in the 800MHz band, inviting bidders to register before December 17 for an auction scheduled to begin on January 24.
Finnish authorities are expecting to raise at least €100 million ($128 million) from the auction, having set a starting price of €16.67 million for each one of the six 2x5MHz blocks due to go under the hammer.
Each bidder can win a maximum of three spectrum blocks, which means Finland could feasibly end up with just two 800MHz operators after the auction has concluded.
Licenses will run for 20 years and cover the entire Finnish territory excluding the region of Aland.
Bidders will also have to pay an administrative fee of €65,000 to cover the costs of the process.
Finland plans to conduct the auction over the internet, using the ‘simultaneous multiround auction’ procedure in which bids for all frequency pairs are placed at the same time.
The Finnish regulator sold 2.6GHz licenses back in 2009 but – like other European authorities – sees the 800MHz band as more suitable for the deployment of mobile broadband in rural and remote areas because of its superior propagation characteristics.
“A single base station can cover a geographical area at least five times larger than that covered by a base station in the 2.6GHz band auctioned in 2009,” said the Ministry of Transport and Communications in a statement on 4G released back in April. “The coverage of an 800MHz base station is also greater than that of the broadband base stations in the 900MHz band.”
At the time, authorities suggested that one license would carry an obligation to cover 95% of the population of Finland within three years and 99% within five years, while other licenses would require holders to serve 97% of the population within five years.
Finland’s starting price values the spectrum at €0.31 per MHz per head of population (MHz pop).
Although Germany’s auction raised €0.72 per MHz pop, and Italy’s generated €0.81, the Danish sale in June this year raised just €0.30.
Finnish authorities insist the starting price is very low. “In proportion to the 20-year-long license period, the amount would only account for about one per mille of teleoperators’ annual turnover,” said authorities in April.