Germany holds Europe's first '4G' auction

April 11, 2010
A sign for 4G (for fourth generation of cellular wireless standards). In Europe's first 4G auction, a large part of what is 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.

In 2000, at the height of the tech bubble, telecom operators fell over themselves to snap up 3G or third generation mobile licenses in an auction in Germany.

In the hangover that followed, successful bidders were left drowning in a sea of debt, and 3G, once it eventually got off the ground, proved something of a disappointment.

Ten years on, it is the turn of 4G frequencies to go under the hammer in the western city of Mainz on Monday. The German government expects to reap only a fraction of the 50 billion euros (67 billion dollars) it received last time.

But with the new technology promising nothing less than a revolution, interest among firms like Britain's Vodafone and T-Mobile is strong, with analysts pencilling in a windfall of 5-10 billion euros for Berlin.

This time around, operators are confident too that the technology will not disappoint and that it will be in the hands of consumers a lot sooner.

"Demand is well ahead of supply," said Matthias Kurth, head of the German telecoms regulator running the auction, with "severe competition" among operators like Vodafone and to grab a piece of the 4G pie.

In Europe's first 4G auction, a large part of what is 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 , known as Long Term Evolution (LTE), will mean that using your mobile handset just to phone people will become old hat since it will allow data to be transferred at breakneck speeds.

The resulting downloading capacities will make the mobile phone a powerful tool for surfing the Internet. Phone calls, too, will occur by Internet telephony, as happens on PCs now with programmes like Skype.

Another advantage for both firms and users of the new technology will be that remote areas currently with little or no high-speed Internet will soon be covered.

And with experts predicting a price war among operators, consumers may start to wonder whether they still need a mobile phone operator as well as a fixed net provider, since home computers could use the networks too.

"With LTE, networks will become a real alternative to cable or DSL (broadband telephone connections)," said Herbert Merz, head of the German hightech association Bitkom.

Explore further: Top mobile operators unite against 4G fees

Related Stories

Top mobile operators unite against 4G fees

June 22, 2006

Six European mobile operators have joined forces to ensure that introducing fourth-generation cell phones will not cost as much as 3G's $184 billion rollout.

Finland allocates new 4G mobile frequencies

April 24, 2009

The Finnish government said Friday it has allocated extra frequencies to telecom firms TeliaSonera, Elisa and DNA to run the country's new, faster fourth-generation (4G) mobile network.

India's billion-dollar 3G auction set to open

April 8, 2010

In an auction set to open Friday, India's mobile firms will bid billions of dollars to provide superfast third generation (3G) service in the country's booming cellular market.

Recommended for you

How to curb emissions? Put a price on carbon

September 3, 2015

Literally putting a price on carbon pollution and other greenhouse gasses is the best approach for nurturing the rapid growth of renewable energy and reducing emissions.

Customizing 3-D printing

September 3, 2015

The technology behind 3-D printing is growing more and more common, but the ability to create designs for it is not. Any but the simplest designs require expertise with computer-aided design (CAD) applications, and even for ...

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

emilknievel
not rated yet Apr 11, 2010
Really interesting article. Thanks for sharing and I hope to find out more about this subject soon. Have a nice day.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.