Telefonica, Orange secure additional 5G spectrum in Spain

The Spanish Ministry of Economic Affairs and Digital Transformation announced it has awarded the remaining two 10-megahertz blocks of spectrum in the 3.5 GHz band to local carriers Orange and Telefonica.

The Spanish government had awarded frequencies in the 3.5 GHz band in two previous phases.

Orange and Telefónica were the only two operators that took part in this last auction for the 3.5 GHz band, each paying the starting price of 21 million euros ($25.67 million) for a 10-megahertz block.

The bidding consisted of two rounds and has been carried out through the simultaneous ascending multiple-round auction mechanism. All concessions will be in force until December 2038.

Following this recent tender, Orange now holds 110 megahertz of spectrum in the 3.5 GHz band; Telefonica 100 megahertz; Vodafone 90 meghertz; and MásMóvil 80 megahertz, the ministry said.

“The next step will be to reorganize the frequencies so that all operators have contiguous blocks of frequencies and, therefore, make a more efficient use of the radio spectrum in the deployment of 5G technology,” the ministry added.

The Spanish government aims for 75% of the population to have 5G coverage by 2025 through the bands that have been identified as priorities: 694-790 MHz, 3.4-3.8 GHz and 24.25-27.5 GHz.

Spanish operator Orange is already offering 5G services in 121 towns and cities in 39 provinces across the country, according to recent press reports. Some of the cities covered by Orange’s non-standalone (NSA) 5G network include Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia, Seville, Malaga, Zaragoza, Logroño, Leon, Santander, Salamanca, Valladolid and Pamplona.

Orange had previously said its goal was to offer its 5G services in 93 towns and cities across Spain before the end of 2020.

The operator launched commercial 5G services in Spain in September of 2020, using equipment provided by Swedish vendor Ericsson.

Orange said it would launch 5G through the standalone (SA) architecture once the Spanish government makes available spectrum in the 700 MHz band, which is expected to occur in the first months of 2021.

Spain’s largest telco Telefonica’s 5G network already reaches 80% of the country’s population, according to recent Spanish press reports. The operator’s goal was to provide 5G coverage to 75% of the Spanish population by the end of 2020.

Telefonica currently offers 5G connectivity to approximately 1,300 towns and cities across the Spain.

Rival operator Vodafone launched Spain’s first commercial 5G network in Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia, Seville, Malaga, Zaragoza, Bilbao, Vitoria, San Sebastian, La Coruna, Vigo, Gijon, Pamplona, Logrono and Santander in June 2019. The carrier had previously said that it was working with Huawei and Ericsson in the deployment of the 5G network.

The telco’s 5G network currently reaches 21 cities across the country.

Meanwhile, Masmovil launched 5G last year and the telco’s network currently provides this technology in 19 Spanish cities.

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