Turkish 4G auction attracts keen bidding from Vodafone, Avea and Turkcell; Netgsm fails to bid

27 Aug 2015

Turkey’s three incumbent mobile network operators (MNOs), British-owned Vodafone plus Turkish-owned Turkcell and Avea, have each won 4G spectrum in the 26 August tender held by the Information and Communication Technologies Authority (BTK), collectively bidding a total of more than EUR1.14 billion (USD1.3 billion) for the frequencies on offer. Meanwhile, a fourth firm, Netgsm, declined to submit an offer on the bandwidth that will enable mobile operators to roll out new technologies (including 5G), replete with faster web browsing and improved voice calls. The licences won in the auction are valid until 30 April 2029 and will treble the amount of available spectrum for each operator when the systems eventually go live.

In total, 20 packets of Frequency Division Duplexing (FDD) spectrum were up for tender, the BTK confirmed. The tender packages had been divided up into broadly equal blocks, dubbed A1, A2 and A3, and are the only three allocations being made in Turkey. Vodafone Turkey reportedly offered EUR390 million for the A1 800MHz bandwidth allocation, and Avea bid EUR380 million for the equivalent FDD A2 package, while Turkcell won the 800MHz A3 package with its bid of EUR372.9 million.

The BTK had hoped to launch the 4G auction in May this year but the process was delayed, and only after several revisions were the new details published; the revised auction had suggested dubbing the award as one for ‘4.5G’ frequencies after a review of 4G led to widespread criticism and a call from President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to ‘skip directly from 3G to 5G … within two years’. However, in the end the confusing moniker was ditched from the final auction.

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