Regulator BIPT closed the 5G spectrum auction on Monday. Five operators are jointly buying radio spectrum for 1.2 billion euros to be able to set up 5G networks. Surprise: Citymesh (part of Cegeka) has teamed up with Digi Communications: a Romanian telecom company.

Three weeks after the start of the last round, the auction of the new 5G spectrum and the existing 2G and 3G spectrum has ended. Five operators, namely Citymesh Mobile, Network Research Belgium, Orange Belgium, Proximus, and Telenet Group, participated in the auction and were each able to acquire a part of the radio spectrum that will determine the mobile telecom landscape in our country for the next 20 years. In total, the auction will raise 1.2 billion euros. That is EUR 468.5 million more than the entry price set for the start of the auction, the regulator and radio spectrum manager BIPT said. So the government gets more money than initially to provide.

The 3600 MHz band is considered the most important band to enable the large-scale deployment of 5G. Ultimately, there will be 5 providers for this spectrum: Citymesh Mobile, Network Research Belgium, Orange Belgium, Proximus, and Telenet Group. Much more bandwidth is available than in the 700MHz band and its high bandwidth makes it ideal for all kinds of industrial applications. That is why NRB only bought spectrum in this segment. The other 4 also buy spectrum in all other auctioned frequency bands.

Who exactly buys what?

Who exactly buys which frequencies? An overview. © DN/BIPT

The 700 MHz is a new frequency band that can be used for 5G technology. This frequency band is suitable for providing coverage over larger areas and also allows better indoor coverage. In that respect, this band is probably especially interesting for the ‘Internet of Things’ applications. The 900 MHz, 1800 MHz and 2100 MHz frequency bands are currently mainly used for 2G, 3G and 4G applications.

Surprise: the fourth player will be partly Romanian

The fact that existing operators are acquiring 5G rights was of course in line with expectations, and the candidatures and ambitions of NRB and Citymesh (Cegeka) were equally well known. However, there is still a surprise in the outcome. Citymesh Mobile now appears to be 51% owned by Citymesh – which in itself is part of the Cegeka group and 49% of RCS & RDS. That is a company of which Digi Communications is the main shareholder.

Digi Communications is a European telecom provider that operates from Romania and is also already active in Hungary, Spain and Italy. In Portugal, Digi obtained the necessary 5G spectrum last year. Belgium has now been added, because Citymesh and Digi want to jointly develop a new, and thus the fourth, national mobile (5G) network in our country. Citymesh emphasizes that it will serve both the business and consumer markets. And so our country will soon have a new national mobile operator with its own network for the first time in more than 25 years.

Finally, the spectrum auction is not quite over. It is now necessary to determine the positioning of the blocks purchased by each operator on the relevant frequency bands. In principle, this takes place by mutual agreement. But if the operators can’t figure it out, you can also bid on it. This is followed by an auction of the spectrum on the 1400 MHz band.

Three weeks after the start of the last round, the auction of the new 5G spectrum and the existing 2G and 3G spectrum has ended. Five operators, namely Citymesh Mobile, Network Research Belgium, Orange Belgium, Proximus, and Telenet Group, participated in the auction and were each able to acquire a part of the radio spectrum that will determine the mobile telecom landscape in our country for the next 20 years. In total, the auction will raise 1.2 billion euros. That is EUR 468.5 million more than the entry price set for the start of the auction, the regulator and radio spectrum manager BIPT said. The government is therefore raising more money than initially anticipated. The 3600 MHz band is considered the most important band to enable the large-scale deployment of 5G. Ultimately, there will be 5 providers for this spectrum: Citymesh Mobile, Network Research Belgium, Orange Belgium, Proximus, and Telenet Group. Much more bandwidth is available than in the 700MHz band and its high bandwidth makes it ideal for all kinds of industrial applications. That is why NRB only bought spectrum in this segment. The other 4 also buy spectrum in all other auctioned frequency bands. The 700 MHz is a new frequency band that will be able to be used for 5G technology. This frequency band is suitable for providing coverage over larger areas and also allows better indoor coverage. In that respect, this band is probably especially interesting for the ‘Internet of Things’ applications. The 900 MHz, 1800 MHz and 2100 MHz frequency bands are currently mainly used for 2G, 3G and 4G applications. The fact that existing operators are acquiring 5G rights was of course in line with expectations, and the candidatures and ambitions of NRB and Citymesh (Cegeka) were equally well known. However, there is still a surprise in the outcome. Citymesh Mobile now appears to be 51% owned by Citymesh – which in itself is part of the Cegeka group and 49% of RCS & RDS. This is a company of which Digi Communications is the main shareholder. Digi Communications is a European telecom provider that operates from Romania and is also active in Hungary, Spain and Italy, among other places. In Portugal, Digi obtained the necessary 5G spectrum last year. Belgium has now been added, because Citymesh and Digi want to jointly develop a new, and thus the fourth, national mobile (5G) network in our country. Citymesh emphasizes that it will serve both the business and consumer markets. And so our country will soon have a new national mobile operator with its own network for the first time in more than 25 years. Finally, the spectrum auction is not completely over yet. It is now necessary to determine the positioning of the blocks purchased by each operator on the relevant frequency bands. In principle, this takes place by mutual agreement. But if the operators can’t figure it out, you can also bid on it. This is followed by an auction of the spectrum on the 1400 MHz band.