Switzerland aims to launch an auction this month for frequencies needed to provide fifth-generation (5G) mobile services. Photo: (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein, File)

INTERNATIONAL – Switzerland aims to launch an auction this month for frequencies needed to provide fifth-generation (5G) mobile services, in a contest likely to include established rivals Swisscom, Sunrise and Salt Mobile.

Telecoms operators are keen to get 5G spectrum for an edge in new digital services such as powering the Internet of Things, industrial automation and autonomous vehicles.

The Federal Office of Communications (Ofcom) said only that the auction was still scheduled for January and that a result was due by the second quarter of the year.

It provided no other details – not even which or how many companies would take part – for the sale to be conducted by a so-called clock auction. Potential bidders – which could also include newcomers and foreign groups – are also not allowed to comment.

Authorities have said a clock auction ensures bidders can configure frequency packages which best suit their business models. It lets bidders switch between frequency categories in the course of the auction.

The auction covers blocks of frequencies within the 700 MHz, 1400 MHz, 2.6 GHz and 3.5 GHz ranges. It is set to raise at least Sf220 million (R3.1 billion) if bids are submitted for all the blocks on offer.

Italy last year raised a bumper €6.5bn (R103bn) for state coffers in its 5G auction that drew ferocious bidding but has been criticized for draining capital reserves from operators that face hefty network investments.

Germany could raise €4bn to €5bn from its planned auction of spectrum for 5G mobile services, business daily Handelsblatt has reported. Deutsche Telekom, Vodafone and Telefonica Deutschland have said they will participate. Companies need to apply by January 25 to take part.

Reuters