Dutch operators finally get their hands on midband 5G spectrum


All three national mobile operators picked up additional spectrum in the 3.5 GHz band following a much-delayed auction process

This week, the Dutch telecoms regulator has announced the conclusion of its latest 5G auction, with KPN, Odido, and VodafoneZiggo all acquiring additional spectrum licences.

The auction saw each operator gain 100 MHz of spectrum in the 3.5GHz band, each paying just over the reserve price for the privilege.

In total, the auction raised €174.4 million, with the licences valid until 2040.

The auction has been a long time coming. The Dutch government had initially planned to hold the auction back in 2021 but was severely delayed by a legal tussle with satellite operator Inmarsat, who was already using the spectrum to provide emergency maritime communications.

This dispute was ultimately solved last year, when Inmarsat signed a deal with the government to move its affected ground station to Greece.

The additional 5G spectrum will be greatly appreciated by the Dutch operators, who have been crying out for additional 5G capacity for years. Last year, data from OpenSignal showed the Netherlands to have some of the poorest download speeds in Europe, with 5G services only delivering a small improvement over 4G. The new 3.5 GHz spectrum should play a major role in alleviating these issues, offering customers both greatly improved speeds and capacity.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the operators say that they are already well prepared to quickly make use of this new spectrum. Odido, for example, said that over half of its existing 5G sites will be able to immediately make use of the new frequencies.

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