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February 28, 2008  |  Email This Article   |  Print This Article

Italy auctions WiMAX spectrum for €136 million EUR

ROME (WiMAX Day). The auction of 3.5 GHz radio frequencies in Italy came to an end today after its ninth round of bidding. The Ministry of Communications announced a final tally of €136.3 million EUR, an increase of 176% over the initial offers made by bidders.

At a press conference today, Communications Minister Paolo Gentiloni told reporters that competition for the 35 WiMAX licenses was high, and that this is a testimony to the success of the technology.

“Broadband and fast Internet is a commitment that will soon become a reality,” said Minister Gentiloni. The auction was “a milestone along the road to break down the digital divide and ensure the right to access fast Internet as a new universal service of the twenty-first century.”

The spectrum was auctioned in three blocks of paired 2×21 MHz frequencies.

The biggest winner in the auction was AriAdsl. It gained licenses in all the regions of Italy for a total of €47.5 million EUR, which will enable it to build a national network. The company is said to be partially owned by the Isreali billionaire David Gilo, who reportedly has a passion for the gentle landscapes of Umbria.

Telecom Italia walked away with three licenses, in the central and southern regions of Italy, and the island of Sardinia, for which it paid a total of €13.8 million EUR.

The company AFT S.p.A, which provides WiFi hotspots around Italy, also was awarded licenses in all regions of Italy, and paid a total of €34.4 million EUR.

Multimedia group Retelit, through its subsidiary e-via S.p.A., won licenses in central and northern Italy, including Lombardy, Friuli Venezia Giulia, Veneto, Emilia Romagna and Marche, for which it paid €23.3 million EUR.

MGM Productions took licenses in the regions of Trento, Tuscany and Liguria, and the company Tourist Ferry Boat took a license in Sicily.

As the price for the spectrum skyrocketed in the early days of bidding, big contenders such as Wind Telecom, Fastweb and Mediaset each withdrew from the bidding.

Italy is one of the last countries in Europe to issue 3.5 GHz spectrum. The Ministry was happy to boast today that Italy has won the top position on auction revenues from the sale of 3.5 GHz spectrum. Last year, the auction of 3.5 GHz spectrum in France garnered €125.8 million EUR, and in Germany €56.1 million EUR.