5G spectrum auction picks up in 2018 — report by GSA

5G was the buzz word in 2018 for the telecom industry as 10 countries have auctioned / allocated / licensed spectrum for 5G network showing the fresh demand for high-speed Internet connections.
5G spectrum auction in 2018 report by GSAAustralia (3575–3700 MHz), the UAE (3300–3800 MHz), Finland (3410–3800 MHz), Italy (3600–3800 MHz and 26 GHz), Ireland (3600 MHz), Latvia (3400–3450 MHz and 3650–3700 MHz), South Korea (3420–3700 MHz and 26.5–28.9 GHz), Mexico (2500–2690 MHz), Spain (3600–3800 MHz), UK (3400 MHz) have conducted 5G spectrum auctions, according to telecom industry association GSA.

Seventeen countries have formally announced plans to auction 5G spectrum between 2018 and the end of 2020. Thirteen countries have planned spectrum allocations in bands that can potentially be used for 5G.

Australia will conduct 5G spectrum auction in the 24.25–27.25 GHz band during Q3-Q4 2020. Austria is planning 5G spectrum auction for 3400–3800 MHz in Q2 2019.

Belgium is planning to sell 3400– 3800 MHz spectrum in 2019. Canada will allocate 3450–3650 MHz for 5G in 2020. France will keep 3400–3800 MHz for 5G in 2019. Germany is considering 3400– 3700 MHz for 5G in Spring 2019. Greece will be keeping 3400–3800 MHz for 5G in 2019. Hong Kong is allocating 3300–3400 MHz; 3400–3600 MHz; 4830–4930 MHz; 24.25–28.35 GHz for 5G in 2019. Hungary will keep 3400– 3800 MHz for 5G in Q3 2019.

Japan may consider 3.6–4.2, 4.4–4.9 and 27–29.5 GHz for 5G in 2019. Mexico is planning 600 MHz for 5G in 2020.

Netherlands will allocate 700 MHz; 1400 MHz; 2100 MHz for 4G and 5G in late 2019 / early 2020. Poland will keep 700 MHz for 5G in 2020.

Romania will keep 3400–3800 MHz in 2019 and 26 GHz in 2021 for 5G. Spain will keep 700 MHz for 5G in 2020. Sweden will allocate 2300 MHz and 3400–3800 MHz for 5G in 2019. Taiwan will auction 3400 MHz; 3600 MHz; 28 GHz for 5G in 2020.


China and India, two leading nations in the Asia Pacific region, are yet to announce their 5G spectrum auction / allocation.

Australia in December 2018 completed an auction of spectrum in the 3600 MHz band for 5G use, with four companies such as Dense Air Australia, Mobile JV, Optus Mobile and Telstra winning lots. It is also considering the auction of spectrum at 26 GHz (24.25–27.5 GHz) for 5G in Q3-Q4 2020.

China has reserved the 3300–3600 MHz and 4800–5000 MHz bands for 5G services. China is also expected to use the 24.75–27.5 GHz band and the 37–43.5 GHz band and has recently initiated a stakeholder consultation on these bands. MIIT is not expected to issue 5G licences before H2 2019.

Hong Kong has decided to release in 2019 the 3300–3400 MHz band for indoor mobile services, the 3400–3600 MHz band for mobile services (accessible from April 2020) and the 4830–4930 MHz band for mobile services.

Hong Kong also invited telecom operators to express interest in, and is currently consulting on assignment options for, the 26 GHz band (24.25–27.5 GHz) and 28 GHz band (27.5–28.35 GHz) for mobile/fixed wireless 5G services with release planned for 2019.

India’s Telecom Department in March 2018 asked operators to free spectrum in the 3300–3400 MHz band for 5G by 30 September 2018. India’s TRAI has also revealed spectrum price for 5G spectrum auction. But India government is yet to formally accept its spectrum price for 5G and other bands.

Indonesia will license 5G spectrum by 2022. Current bands under consideration for allocation are 24.25–27 GHz, 27–29.5 GHz and 3.4–3.6 GHz.

Japan is considering the 4400–4900 MHz, 3600–4200 MHz and the 28 GHz (27–29.5 GHz) bands for 5G and plans to assign spectrum in these bands by March 2019.

Malaysia is yet to announce its 5G spectrum plans.

New Zealand could consider the range between 3410 and 3690 MHz for 5G after October 2022. The ranges of 24.25–28.35 GHz, 1427–1518 MHz band (L Band) and the 600 MHz band are also to be considered for 5G use.

Pakistan is considering the 3500 MHz band for 5G services.

Philippines promised spectrum in a variety of bands (700 MHz, 850 MHz, 2010 MHz, 2100 MHz, 2500 MHz, 3300 MHz, 3500 MHz and 10.5 GHz).

Singapore is considering the following bands for future 5G deployments: 800 MHz, 1427–1518 MHz, 3400–3600 MHz and 24.25–29.5 GHz.

South Korea held its first 5G auction in the 3.5 GHz and 28 GHz bands on 15 June 2018. SK Telecom and KT each acquired 100 MHz in the 3.5 GHz band, the maximum amount allowed per operator, while LG Uplus won 80 MHz; in the 28 MHz band, each operator won 800 MHz.

Taiwan has opened a public consultation on the allocation of spectrum in the 3400–3600 MHz, 3600–3800 MHz and 3800–4200 MHz bands for 5G in 2020. It is formally considering the 28 GHz band.

Thailand in November 2018 passed a regulation recalling unused spectrum in the 1500 MHz, 2300 MHz and 2600 MHz bands, with a view to reallocation via auction for provision of 5G services.

Vietnam may keep 24.25–27.5 GHz and 27–43.5 GHz bands for 5G services.


Albania is planning a tender of spectrum at 800 MHz (792–862 MHz) and applications are due in February 2019.

Austria plans to hold an auction in the 3400–3800 MHz for 5G services in February 2019. Belgium plans to auction the 700 MHz, 1400 MHz and 3600 MHz bands for 5G, according to the following indicative timelines: 700 MHz, 3400–3800 MHz, 1500 MHZ (SDL) in 2019; 26 GHz from 2021; 31.8–33.4 GHz and 40.5–43.5 GHz from 2022 to 2027.

Bosnia and Herzegovina adopted new regulations for the use of the 3400–3600 MHz, 3600–3800 MHz, 800 MHz and 2600 MHz bands.

Bulgaria has launched a public consultation on the use of the 3400–3600 MHz and 3600–3800 MHz bands for 5G services before 2020.

Czechia awarded frequencies in the 3600–3800 MHz band to local operators for high-speed data networks. It has also stated its future intention to issue spectrum at 3400–3600MHz and 26GHz for 5G.

Denmark is yet to announce fresh dates for auctioning spectrum in the 700 MHz, 900 MHz and 2300 MHz bands.

Finland in October 2018 completed an auction of spectrum in the 3500 MHz frequency band (3410–3800 MHz), useable for 5G. Licences were awarded to DNA Finland, Elisa and Telia Finland.

France in October 2018 launched a consultation for allocating spectrum at 1400 MHz, 3400–3800 MHz and 26 GHz, with the aim of achieving commercial 5G deployment in at least one major city by 2020.

Germany in November 2018 announced rules for an auction of spectrum in the 2000 MHz and 3400–3700 MHz bands for 5G services. The auctions will be in spring 2019.

Greece in October 2018 launched a consultation on the granting of rights to use spectrum between 3400–3800 MHz and 24.25–27.5 GHz for 5G testing.

Hungary plans to auction spectrum in the 700 MHz and 3400–3800 MHz bands for 5G in Q3 2019. It has plans to auction spectrum at 26 GHz.

Netherlands plans an auction of the 700 MHz, 1400 MHz and 2100 MHz frequency bands in late 2019-2020 for 4G and 5G. Netherlands is also reviewing the possible use of 3500 MHz spectrum for mobile services.

Norway is consulting on spectrum plans for 5G covering the 1500 MHz, 2300 MHz, 3400–3800 MHz and 26 GHz bands.

Poland is consulting on the allocation of the following 5G spectrum: 700 MHz, 3.5 GHz, 3.7 GHz and 26 GHz.

Portugal is holding a consultation on a spectrum auction of various bands for 5G: 700 MHz, 450 MHz, 900 MHz, 1500 MHz, 1800 MHz, 2.1 GHz, 2.6 GHz, 3.6 GHz and 26 GHz.

Romania has launched two consultations. The first is for the strategy for the implementation of 5G, planned for 2020, including plans to make additional spectrum at 700 MHz and 3400– 3800 MHz available in 2019, plus spectrum at 26 GHz (24.25–27.5 GHz) in 2021.

Russia is yet to sort out 5G spectrum licensing formally. Operators MegaFon and Rostelecom are planning to deploy 5G in the 3400–3600 MHz and 26 GHz bands.

Serbia expects to conduct 5G auctions at the end of 2019 or early 2020. Slovakia has awarded 3600–3800 MHz licences for wireless broadband.

Slovenia has launched a public consultation for the allocation of spectrum in the 700 MHz band for 4G and 5G services.

Spain in July 2018 ran an auction of the 3.6–3.8 GHz spectrum band for 5G services. 200 MHz was auctioned, with three operators winning spectrum. Orange Espana separately gained spectrum at 3.5 GHz in an auction in 2016.

Sweden plans to auction spectrum at 2.3 GHz and 3.5 GHz for mobile broadband and 5G services in 2019.

Switzerland in July 2018 launched an invitation to tender for spectrum in the 700 MHz, 1400 MHz, 2600 MHz and 3500–3800 MHz bands. Auction will be in January 2019.

UK issued an update to its 5G strategy, saying that would continue its work to free radio spectrum in the 700 MHz, 3.6–3.8 GHz and 26 GHz bands as well as considering whether spectrum in the 66–71 GHz bands may be viable for 5G.

UK in March 2018 allocated spectrum in the 3.4 GHz band (3410–3480 MHz and 3500–3580 MHz) for 5G.

Latin America & Caribbean

Argentina has begun the refarming process for the 3400–3600 MHz band and is considering an auction of the 1427–1517 MHz band.

Brazil is considering revising the regulations regarding the 3400–3600 MHz band in order to allow its use by terrestrial services in coexistence with satellite applications in adjacent bands. The 3400–3600 MHz band should be the first to be deployed for 5G in Brazil.

Brazil in mid-August 2018 launched a public consultation on the use of spectrum at 2.3 GHz for 5G.

Chile will conduct the first 5G spectrum auctions in 2019 aiming to sell licences in the 3400–3800 MHz band. Chile in July 2018 opened a consultation on use of the 3.4–3.8 GHz and 27.5–28.35 GHz bands for 5G.

Colombia is yet to announce its 5G spectrum policy. El Salvador is planning to auction the 1700/2100 MHz bands. Peru is yet to allocate spectrum bands to 5G. The regulator is conducting studies to identify frequency bands for 5G technology.

USA said any bands already used for mobile service can be deployed for 5G – FCC doesn’t require any particular technology and the choice is driven by carriers. This means multiple historic auctions are relevant for 5G including but not limited to those for spectrum at 2.5 GHz (March 1996), 28 GHz (March 1998 and May 1999) and 39 GHz (May 2000).

In early November 2018, FCC announced that 40 bidders had qualified for the 28 GHz auction and that it has received 58 applications for the subsequent 24 GHz auction.

FCC is considering opening up the 4.9 GHz public safety band possibly for more 5G access and to support robotic and drone operations in the future. FCC is considering making 3700–4200 MHz mid-band frequencies available for 5G.

FCC in December 2018 announced an incentive auction covering spectrum at 37 GHz (37.6–38.6 GHz); 39 GHz (38.6–40 GHz) and 47 GHz (47.2–48.2 GHz) in order to free up more spectrum for 5G.