Netherlands kicks off mobile spectrum auction

* 38 blocks of 55 Mhz on auction

* Five companies bidding, no names disclosed

* Operators already active on Dutch market bidding limited

AMSTERDAM, April 20 (BestGrowthStock) – The Netherlands launched a
mobile spectrum auction on Tuesday in the 2.6 Ghz band, which
will enable operators to improve and expand their mobile data
networks.

Operators all over Europe need more spectrum to handle the
explosion in data traffic crowding the airwaves as the use of
mobile phones, laptops and other mobile devices rises.

New services such as mobile health applications and mobile
commerce will accelerate the demand for bandwidth as well.

The auction was launched at 0800 GMT and will be held via
the internet. It could take as long as several days, depending
on the bidding process.

In total, 190 Mhz is on auction, divided over 38 blocks for
5 Mhz each. That is more than the 144 Mhz sold in 2000 for just
under 3 billion euros ($4 billion).

Analysts estimate proceeds from the auction will only be in
the tens of millions of euros, based on the way the auction was
set-up and the small number of bidders.

The Dutch Economy Ministry, which is coordinating the
auction, said five companies would be bidding on the
frequencies, but it would not disclose the names until after the
auction was closed.

The German government is currently in the middle of its
largest mobile spectrum auction, which is expected to yield up
to 7 billion euros in proceeds.[ID:nLDE63B0H6]

To guarantee that newcomers will get a fair chance, the
government has limited operators who are already active on the
Dutch market to bidding on a maximum of 55 Mhz each.

Dutch telecoms group KPN (KPN.AS: ) and Vodafone (VOD.L: ) have
tried to get rid of the bidding limitation through the Dutch
courts but a Rotterdam judge ruled last week that the auction
could proceed as planned.

According to a study by research firm Telecompaper, KPN is
market leader in the Dutch mobile service market with a market
share above 50 percent at the end of 2009.

Vodafone had more than 25 percent of the market, while
Deutsche Telekom’s (DTEGn.DE: ) T-Mobile had around 24 percent.

The Economy Ministry expects operators will be able to start
to roll out their networks via the new frequencies in June.

Stock Market Today

(Reporting by Harro ten Wolde; editing by Karen Foster)
($1=.7431 Euro)

Netherlands kicks off mobile spectrum auction