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Spain raises 1.8 bln euros from airwaves auction

Source: Reuters - Mon 1st Aug 2011

Spain said on Monday it had raised a total of 1.815 billion euros from the sale of radio frequencies to cellphone network operators in need of bandwidth to cater for the data-hungry demands of smartphones and tablets.

The proceeds were within a target of 1.5-2 billion euros set by the government, which has put up for sale state assets including the national lottery to convince markets its public finances are under control.

In return for 51 blocks assigned, the Industry Ministry estimated that operators would invest 1.2 billion euros between 2011 and 2013.

The auction was the first held by the ministry to assign radio wave frequencies, following a recent beauty contest. Previously licences were awarded by beauty contest only.

The ministry said Spain's three biggest mobile operators - Telefonica's Movistar , Vodafone and France Telecom's Orange - were the biggest buyers in the auction, as expected.

They paid 668.3 million euros, 517.6 million and 437.0 million respectively, it said.

Another eight bidders won mobile concessions for the first time, including Jazztel , cable operator ONO and regional operators like Euskaltel, in the Basque region, and Galicia's R.

The ministry said it had declared null and void the sale of seven frequency blocks due to ownership limits for leading operators and a lack of new competitors.

An industry spokeswoman said another auction would be held for the seven blocks in October, at which it hoped to raise 200 million euros.

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