Poland closes 4G auctions with $2.5B haul

Poland’s 4G auctions have finally closed after raising PLN9.23 billion ($2.5 billion) in bids.

Having commenced in February, the long-running auctions have generated 6 times the original target specified by regulator UKE. The 4 major players in the market – Deutsche Telekom, Orange, Play (P4) and Polkomtel’s Plus - were all attempting to procure 4G spectrum.

While UKE has not yet revealed the results of the auctions, early reports indicate that P4 obtained 1 block of 800MHz spectrum and 4 blocks in the 2.6GHz band. Along with Plus, P4 already owns some 4G frequencies, providing the smaller operators with an advantage against Orange and Deutsche Telekom.

The bidding was focused on 5 blocks of spectrum in the 800MHz band, along with 14 blocks in the 2.6GHz band. Participants could acquire a maximum of 2 blocks in the former band, and 4 in the latter. There have been over 400 rounds of bidding, prompting UKE head Magdalena Gaj to ask in September whether the “market is serious about buying frequencies”.

As prices escalated far beyond the original reserve of PLN1.6 billion, the government suggested imposing a deadline to end the auction process after 115 days of bidding. Despite the threat of legal action from P4 on the grounds that the rules of a bidding process should not be changed while it is underway, the proposal was approved last month. Polish law stipulates that the process could only end once bidding had finished.  

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