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Germans prepare for auction
Posted: 29-Jul-2000 [Source: FT]

[Germany puts 3G spectrum blocks up for auction on Monday, but only seven bidders are ready to participate.]

By Bertrand Benoit -- "The auction for German third-generation mobile phone licences that begins on Monday has virtually been written off as a non-event after five of the original 12 bidders pulled out, promising to rob the show of its suspense.

"Yet as the remaining contenders fine-tune their bidding strategies, there are good reasons why the exercise could come closer to the UK's nail-biting drama than to this month's soporific Dutch affair.

"I think we are going to see some decent action, firstly because of the size of the market, which means the stakes are high for the bidders," says Andrew Beale, telecommunications analyst at Deutsche Bank.

"Germany is not only less mature than the Netherlands as a market, but with 80m inhabitants, it is potentially the biggest in Europe.

"According to RegTP, the regulator that will be hosting the auction in the Rhineland city of Mainz, Germany had 23.5m mobile users at the end of last year, more than any other European country except Italy, and about four times the level of the Netherlands.

"Meanwhile, market penetration, or the percentage of mobile phone users in the population, stood at 29 per cent in the same period, roughly a third below the UK or the Netherlands. And growth rates are impressive: RegTP expects 48m users by the end of the year.

"A large market is one condition for a lively auction. But "for the process to take off, you need more serious bidders than licences available", says Mr Beale. And in this respect too Germany is fairing reasonably well.

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