Spectrum Pricing April 2020 was updated 23 April after feedback from some regions.
In the first quarter of 2020 regulators continued their efforts to open up spectrum resources, making them available for use for LTE and 5G networks. C-Band spectrum has been targeted by many countries as a key resource for 5G, balancing the requirement to achieve coverage with the need to deliver high capacity, while millimetre wave spectrum (mmWave) is being made available to enable the deployment of much smaller, but higher capacity zones within 5G networks.
The full GSA Spectrum Pricing data will be added to the GAMBoD databases in 2020. An Excel version is available for GSA Members and Associates in the mean time. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
GSA has been tracking the allocation and auction of C-Band spectrum in its regular report 5G Spectrum for Terrestrial Networks: Licensing Developments Worldwide. Since the end of 2015 it has identified 25 countries that have auctioned or allocated C-Band spectrum with the intention of opening up the frequency range for mobile broadband and 5G usage. In the first three months of 2020, Hungary and Taiwan both concluded auctions of C-Band spectrum.
The prices paid for the C-Band spectrum have varied widely. The amount operators are prepared to spend will depend on the degree of competition, the amount of suitable spectrum they already hold, the length of licence available, on the extent of the coverage/performance requirements that are attached to the licence, and the economic value (the amount of money spent by) each mobile customer in the country concerned.
After a strong bidding war, the fees paid in the recent Taiwanese auction exceeded all previous auction prices, achieving an average of $0.72/MHz/Pop (with the highest bidder paying $0.74/MHz/Pop) – much more than the previous maximum of $0.424 per MHz per Pop in Italy. (The Hungarian auction covered multiple bands, and the government has not released the prices paid for individual spectrum bands, so it cannot be plotted on the chart).
Fewer major mmWave auctions designed to support 5G deployment have yet taken place (although mmWave spectrum has historically commonly been made available for point-to-point networks). The United States completed its major auction of spectrum at 37, 39 and 47 GHz in the first quarter, following up its auctions of spectrum at 24 GHz and 28 GHz in 2019. Taiwan and Thailand also auctioned mmWave spectrum during Q1 2020.
* Data for Hong Kong shows the maximum cost over ten years after an initial transition period. Pricing is on an annual basis at nearly $0.0004/MHz/Pop. There is nothing payable in 2019, 30% in 2020 and 70% in 2021, and 100% thereafter; but fees only get levied at all if 75% of all spectrum in the 26/28 GHz range is used.
The prices paid for mmWave spectrum have been much lower than the prices paid for C-Band spectrum to date, with the price per MHz per Pop ranging from just over $0.001 in the USA for spectrum at 47 GHz to nearly $0.02 per MHz per Pop for spectrum at 24-27 GHz in Thailand.
GSA has developed a new database, GSA 5G Spectrum Auction Tracker (available for subscribers) which collates data about the prices of spectrum sold at auction or allocated to operators through administrative proceedings.
The number of countries allocating or auctioning C-Band or mmWave spectrum is expected to grow significantly during 2020, although national strategies to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic have begun to cause delays in imminent auction proceedings. Ongoing or upcoming C-Band and mmWave auctions are currently expected in 33 countries this year. See GSA’s monthly auction calendar, available at
https://gsacom.com for more detail.
GSA will continue to report on the cost of 5G spectrum (including C-Band spectrum, mmWave and other important bands).
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