Perhaps inevitably, the global COVID-19 epidemic has had a major impact on national plans for the assignment of spectrum for mobile services. The second quarter of 2020 saw country after country postpone planned auctions. Since then a few more auctions have taken place and many more are scheduled for the latter parts of this year.
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.
GSA has been tracking the assignment and auction of C-Band spectrum in its various reports. Since the end of 2015, it has identified 30 countries that have auctioned or assigned C-Band spectrum with the intention of opening up the frequency range for mobile broadband and 5G usage. Since our last update in April 2020, two countries have concluded auctions of C-Band spectrum: Luxembourg and Singapore, while another two have completed assignments of C-Band spectrum: New Zealand (to 2022, pending future auctions) and Belgium (on a temporary basis pending future auctions).
The prices paid for the C-Band spectrum have varied widely. The amount operators are prepared to spend depends on the degree of competition, the amount of suitable spectrum they already hold, the length of licence available, 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.
Prices in the recent Luxembourg auction were marginally above the recent average of $0.111/MHz/Pop, while prices in Singapore’s auction were lower at $0.068/MHz/Pop.
The Taiwanese auction has still generated the highest recent C-Band auction prices, achieving an average of $0.72/MHz/Pop (with the highest bidder paying $0.74/MHz/Pop).
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 and other applications). The USA completed its major auction of spectrum at 37 GHz, 39 GHz and 47 GHz in the first quarter of 2020, following up its auctions of spectrum at 24 GHz and 28 GHz in 2019. Taiwan and Thailand auctioned mmWave spectrum during Q1 2020, followed by Finland and Singapore in Q2. Norway also auctioned off some mmWave spectrum historically allocated to point-to-point services, but now made available on a technology-neutral basis.
Spectrum Pricing August 2020
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