- Swisscom, Sunrise, Salt pay a total of CHF 380 million for Swiss 5G frequencies
- Spectrum up for grabs included 700MHz, 1.4GHz, 2.6GHz and 3.5GHz
- Swisscom paid more than Salt and Sunrise combined, for 46% all frequencies
- Potential new entrant Dense Air dropped out of the bidding
Switzerland’s government exceeded its earlier expectations and has raised CHF380 million (pretty much the same in US dollars and equivalent to about €334 million) as a result of today’s conclusion it its national 5G spectrum licence auction. The three incumbent mobile operators – Swisscom, Sunrise Communications and Salt – were all awarded 15-year licences, with Dense Air (part of the Airspace Group) having dropped out of the bidding.
There were four frequency blocks up for grabs – 700MHz, 1,400 MHz, 2.6GHz and 3.5GHz – and the initial expectation was that they would net around CHF 220 million for the Swiss coffers. The final result was a bonus for the country’s Federal Communications Commission (ComCom), whilst also not escalating to the stratospheric heights witnessed in Italy, which reached the dizzying heights of €6.5 billion and inevitably drew plenty of criticism about how this would be detrimental to capital expenditure on network rollout.
Swisscom said it bought 46 percent of the frequencies sold and considered the price to be a long-term investment in the future of the mobile market. It said its 196 million franc bid was not included in 2019’s projected capital investments of around 2.3 billion francs.
- Swisscom acquired 46 per cent of all the frequencies for CHF 195.5 million, acquiring 2x15MHz blocks of 700MHz, 50MHz of 1,400MHz, and 120MHz on 3.5GHz.
“By the end of 2019, it is expected that 5G will have been successively rolled out to 60 Swiss towns and communities, providing customers with faster response times, higher speeds and greater capacity,” said Swisscom Media Spokesperson Esther Hüsler.
- Sunrise paid CHF 89.2 million for 20MHz of 700MHz, 15MHz of 1,400MHz and 100MHz of 3.5GHz. It said it had acquired the “strategically most important frequencies in the 3.5MHz band” to align with its "5G for People" strategy.
“We were able to acquire the strategically most important bands at a very favorable price per MHz, even better than the competition,” said Olaf Swantee, CEO of Sunrise. “A look abroad shows that providers in countries like Italy and the UK had to spend much more money for the most important frequencies. We are therefore very satisfied with the outcome of the auction.”
- Salt paid CHF 94.5 million for 2x10MHz of 700MHz, 10MHz of 1,400MHz, and 80MHz of 3.5GHz spectrum.
”We are extremely satisfied With the outcome of the 5G auction,” said Pascal Grieder, CEO of Salt. “Our strategy has been successful, and we now look forward to further improving our network and to launch 5G services later this year. The introduction of 5G technology will be a key element to bring digitalisation in Switzerland to the next level and make a significant contribution to the competitiveness of the country’s infrastructure.”
Interestingly, there were no takers for the 2.6GHz spectrum and some of the “supplemental downlink” frequencies were not sold.
Onwards and upwards
Next up for auction junkies is the German contest (or maybe not, depending on the outcome of the various litigious operators). There is every expectation that this one could perhaps match the heights of Italy’s auction – remember, Germany has a history of outrageous spectrum wins, ever since the infamous €50.8billion UMTS auction (contrast that with Switzerland’s disastrous auction where four bidders turned up for four licences and the government settled on just CHF 205 million, which back in late 2000 was worth about €135 million).
The absence of a fourth CSP in the Swiss market will no doubt be a relief to the incumbents, and reinforces the model in Europe that three’s company but four is a crowd.
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