Operators in the UK paid £1.35 billion in the first 5G auction. The price of the spectrum is much higher than expected. Royal Bank of Canada had expected total proceeds of around £1 billion at the start of the sale.
The value went surprisingly up as the four operators O2, Vodafone, EE and Three all battled fiercely for the spectrum in the 3.4Ghz range that is needed to launch 5G. The heightened competition fueled the cost of spectrum for all the operators.
EE paid £302.6 million for 40 Mhz of the 5G spectrum while O2 paid £317.7 million for the same amount of spectrum. Vodafone spent £378 million for 50 Mhz of the 5G spectrum while Three paid £151 million for 20 Mhz.
Airspan Spectrum Holdings, a fifth bidder that was backed by SoftBank, failed to win any spectrum.
O2 also grabbed the entire spectrum in the 2.3Ghz range that was also put up for sale. That spectrum is needed to boost 4G signals.