The auction for the new 5G mobile communications standard frequencies is now underway. The Federal Network Agency will be offering frequency blocks to the four network providers admitted to the auction. Taking part are Vodafone, Telefonica Deutschland, United Internet subsidiary Drillisch, and of course Deutsche Telekom. So why are we bidding and what exactly will be happening at the auction? Wolfgang Kopf, Head of Group Public & Regulatory Affairs at Deutsche Telekom AG, provides the answers.
Why does Deutsche Telekom join the auction?
The frequencies being auctioned are an important basis for the rollout of 5G networks in metropolitan areas and for industrial applications. By participating in the auction, we are pursuing our objective of providing the best mobile coverage for consumers and industry. In the future, the networking of machines and the Internet of Things will become increasingly important. We want to establish the most powerful digital infrastructure for digitalization in Germany and 5G is a key future technology for doing so. We intend to participate in the digital transformation with a multi-billion-euro investment program in 5G.
How much does one of these frequency blocks cost?
Total minimum bid prices amount to just over 100 million euros. A total of 12 frequency packages in the 2 Gigahertz range and 29 frequency packages in the 3.6 Gigahertz range will be put up for auction. It goes without saying that now at the beginning of the auction we cannot state just how much Deutsche Telekom will be spending.
Can the Federal Network Agency’s ambitious build-out obligations be achieved?
We will all have to work together to achieve this. Germany currently has the longest approval procedure for new antenna sites in all of Europe. A myriad of bureaucratically construed regulations, understaffing in public administration, and citizens’ initiatives that oppose the local installation of cellular antennas all throw a monkey wrench into the works. It is also unclear whether the construction capacities needed to establish such a great number of sites in the time required to meet these coverage requirements will even be available on the market. To build the new antennas, we therefore need faster, streamlined procedures, along with the provision and shared use of sites, empty conduits, and other facilities on public property. Nevertheless, it is uncertain whether all of the build-out obligations can be fulfilled. An action is being brought against them for this reason.