The fact that frequencies are a scarce commodity is demonstrated by the auction of the 41 frequency blocks now completed for the launch of the 5G mobile communications network in Germany: 12 blocks with 2 × 5 MHz bandwidth (paired) in the 1.92–1.98 GHz range and 2.11–2.17 GHz and 29 blocks in the 3.4–3.7 GHz range.
In the 3.6 GHz range, one block was defined with a bandwidth of 20 MHz, the remaining blocks with a bandwidth of 10 MHz. The two blocks at the edge – No. 1 with 3.4–3.42 GHz and No. 29 with 3.69–3.7 GHz – were also concretely auctioned off, all others in abstract terms, i.e. the concrete allocation of the actual frequency range is still taking place. This allows a coherent allocation of the frequency blocks. The mobile network operators can reach an agreement among themselves within a period of one month and propose the agreement to the German Federal Network Agency for adoption.
For the 20 MHz block 3.4–3.42 GHz (No. 1), the auction price of EUR 44.373 million (knockdown: Vodafone) was significantly lower than for the other blocks. It is located at the lower edge of the 3.6 GHz range planned for 5G and could be disturbed by radar systems operating in the adjacent frequency range. To compensate for the interference, this edge block was equipped with twice the bandwidth, but the four bidders were still remarkably reluctant to use this block.
In comparison: The highest bid for a block in the 2 GHz range is EUR 213.816 million – also awarded to Vodafone.
Four blocks with 2 × 5 MHz bandwidth (paired) in the 2 GHz band will only be available to the companies that won the contract – Drillisch Netz AG, Telefonica Germany and Vodafone – from 1 January 2026. These are the ranges 1.93–1.94 GHz / 2.12–2.13 GHz and 1.95–1.96 GHz / 2.14–2.15 GHz, in which existing rights of use for »network access to the provision of telecommunications services« continue until 31 December 2025. All other blocks can be used from 1.1.2021. The frequency allocations are all limited until 31.12.2040.