Regulator sets the date for frequency auction, government offers deferred payments to foster early 5G investment

Norway will auction off mobile spectrum in the 700 MHz and 2.1 GHz bands in early June, it announced this week, and the government is willing to allow winning bidders to postpone the bulk of their payments if they agree to meet certain coverage targets.

The country’s National Communications Authority (Nkom) said it expects the auction of frequencies in the two bands to begin on 3 June, giving would-be participants until 9 May to register.

It has 30 MHz of paired spectrum available in the 700-MHz band and 2×15 MHz at 2.1 GHz; frequencies in both bands will be auctioned off in 5 MHz blocks.

The reserve price for a 700 MHz block stands at 125 million kroner (€13 million), although there are two blocks available that carry road and railway coverage obligations and have a minimum price of NOK55 million and NOK30 million respectively.

The minimum per bock price in the 2.1 GHz band is NOK25 million.

Winning bidders can also choose to take up a further national roads coverage obligation that is not tied to any spectrum block, but brings with it a discount of up to NOK40 million on their overall bill.

In addition, the government, keen to foster early investment in 5G, has revealed that it will allow deferred payments if the winning bidders prioritise new coverage in the early years of network rollout on the spectrum.

Specifically, winning bidders will be able to postpone the payment of 90% of their auction spend for up to two years if they commit to "targeted infrastructure investments" during that period, read a statement from Norway’s Minister of Digitalisation Nikolai Astrup. Winners will be required to invest NOK250 million (€26 million) or more to cover a new area, including the establishment of at least 100 new base stations.