France gets four bids in 4G auction

Reuters News
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Posted: Dec 15, 2011 6:44 AM

PARIS (Reuters) - France's telecoms regulator has received bids from all four of the country's major operators for fourth-generation wireless licenses and will choose the winners of the auction in the coming weeks.

ARCEP said in a statement on Thursday that France Telecom, SFR, Bouygues and Iliad had submitted offers in the second round of bidding for the 4G mobile licenses.

It did not disclose how much each company had bid. But the French government aims to raise at least 1.8 billion euros ($2.33 billion) from the second round of the auction in which the best-quality frequencies are being sold in the 800 MHz band.

France has already sold off a batch of frequencies in the 2.6 GHz band for 936 million euros.

In the first round, France Telecom and soon-to-be new mobile player Iliad won the two larger blocks of 20 megahertz, while SFR and Bouygues got 15 MHz each.

The results of the auction will shape the competitive landscape in France's telecom market for years to come. The amount of spectrum an operator has determines the quality of service it can offer customers surfing the web from smartphones or tablets, a lucrative and fast-growing market.

($1 = 0.7721 euros)

(Reporting by Leila Abboud; Editing by James Regan)