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4G phone auction raises 'only' €4.4 billion

AFP/The Local · 20 May 2010, 18:41

Published: 20 May 2010 18:41 GMT+02:00

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The auction, which began April 12 in the western city of Mainz, wrapped up after 224 rounds of bidding and with the coveted licences going to four sector giants, a Federal Network Agency spokesman said.

Deutsche Telekom, Vodafone and O2 claimed the top licences while E-Plus clinched lesser-value contracts.

The grand total from the auction - €4.385 billion - marked a windfall for German state coffers but fell far short of the €50 billion generated from the sale of third generation UMTS licenses in 2000.

Unlike UMTS, fourth generation Long Term Evolution (LTE) networks are expected to be up and running soon and experts are confident that the new technology will not disappoint.

The innovation is expected to provide Internet service at up to 100 times the speed of standard DSL lines.

"With LTE, mobile telephone networks will become viable alternatives to DSL or cable connections," said Herbert Merz of the telecom and high-tech industry group BITKOM.

A large part of what was up for grabs is the so-called "digital dividend," a chunk of frequencies left unwanted by television companies following their switch from analogue to digital broadcasting.

The new technology will mean users will be able to view high-definition videos on mobile phones, with their ability to transfer data at much higher speeds.

It may also pose competition to broadband and cable operators, since computers will be able to use the fourth-generation networks to access the internet.

Industry experts say it is likely to spark a mass exodus away from telephone landlines and convince consumers to go fully mobile.

Following trials with test networks in Sweden and Norway and regions of Germany, the first proper 4G networks should be up and running by the end of the year.

Story continues below…

It may also pose competition to broadband and cable operators, since computers will be able to use the fourth-generation networks to access the internet.

The providers will be required to hook up their "digital dividend" frequencies in rural areas that have not had access to high-speed internet connections because of the prohibitive costs of laying cable there.

The Economy Ministry welcomed the step as "a significant step toward nation-wide broadband coverage."

Covering rural regions with high-speed internet "is a crucial condition for a quick return to economic growth and rising prosperity."

AFP/The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

01:19 May 21, 2010 by Zlik
I read somewhere where the japanese are very much in the drivers seat when it comes to stuff above DSL. speed. Say 5GB/sec fiber optics and such. Perhaps 10g is already rolling out there.
09:39 May 21, 2010 by darwiniandemon
All great and dandy until you read the fine print that there's a 10 gig cap and anything beyond that is reduced to GPRS speed.

Resentment still harbours over my decision on the O2 Surf-Stick! Hope it doesn't happen for the 4G plans...but probably will.
12:18 May 21, 2010 by michael4096

If I understand you correctly, you want a cheap flatrate for high-speed mobile data and unlimited use. Please, tell how anyone can ever possibly provide that in the real world?

Currently, in germany, you can choose pay-as-you-go or unlimited flat.-rate with speed restrictions after 10GB per month - its actually better than most countries regardless of which provider you choose.
11:56 May 26, 2010 by zohaib1984
I just read somewhere that the 3G licenses in India were sold for a whopping $15 billions and counting.

4.4Billion Euros pan-Europe for 4G does sound a bit less in comparison considering India is a "third-world country."
13:11 May 27, 2010 by Alofat
@5 4.4 bil for Germany alone not Europe, read the damn articel.
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