Telecom Italia and Vodafone were the biggest spenders in Italy’s 4G/LTE spectrum auctions, which closed yesterday raising EUR3.95 billion for the government. The figure was considerably beyond the government’s top forecast of EUR3.1 billion.
All four of the country’s main operators – Telecom Italia, Vodafone Italy, VimpelCom’s Wind and Hutchison-owned 3 Italia – acquired spectrum, reports Dow Jones Newswires, though 3 Italia was the only one to miss out on bandwidth in the valuable 800MHz band.
Wind paid EUR1.1 billion for two blocks of 800MHz band and four blocks of 2600MHz, while 3 Italia paid EUR305 million for one block of 1800 MHz and four blocks of 2600MHz. But 3 Italia didn’t get any 800 MHz, which is the most valuable since it has the longest range.
Italy’s Industry minister Paolo Romani described the EUR3.95 billion windfall for the government as an “extraordinary” outcome and promised to use the additional proceeds to ramp up investment in Italy’s telecoms and tech sectors.
The “Digital Italy Plan” is the government’s major initiative, which includes the “National Broadband Plan” and the “National Plan for Next Generation Networks”. In 2009 the Government announced a project aimed at providing 95.6 per cent of the population with up to 20 Mbps broadband. The remaining 4.4 per cent in areas with low population density are to be covered with up to 2 Mbps using wireless broadband technologies.
Vodafone will extend mobile broadband coverage to cover as many 1000 Italian villages and towns over the next two years. About 1,800 Italian villages are estimated to lack access to high-speed Internet.