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German 5G auction scheduled for 19 March 2019 (appeals permitting)

The German regulator, the Bundesnetzagentur (BNetzA), has finalised the details of the award, but legal appeals are pending.

Background: The regulator has spent several months preparing the 5G auction for spectrum in the 2GHz and 3.6GHz bands. The decision to award this spectrum came in May 2018, and the regulator finalised the framework in November 2018.

What was announced today? The regulator has disclosed the four applicants approved for the auction (Drillisch Network, Telefonica, Deutsche Telekom, and Vodafone), noting that the admission of Drillisch Netz AG gives the opportunity to strengthen competition.

When will the auction start? The expected start date is 19 March 2019. However, BNetzA added that it depends on whether a court decision makes a time shift necessary, because legal challenges are now threatening to delay the award. Vodafone announced appeal on 18 February 2019; DT followed on 22 February 2019, and Telefonica had done so earlier. All three MNOs are seeking clarifications on the framework. The Administrative Court of Cologne will now have to decide on these urgent applications. The same court rejected an appeal by Telefonica on 21 February 2019, saying that BNetzA has the right to proceed with the award even if some spectrum will not be available until 2025.