German Airwave Auction Raises $5.7 Billion to Top 2010 Sale

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Germany’s government raised more than 5 billion euros ($5.7 billion) from an auction of mobile-phone frequencies, exceeding the proceeds from a sale five years ago.

Vodafone Group Plc’s German unit pledged to pay 2.09 billion euros, followed by Deutsche Telekom AG with 1.79 billion euros, according to a statement from the Federal Network Agency. Telefonica Deutschland Holding AG is spending 1.2 billion euros. The 5.08 billion-euro total was about 16 percent more than the proceeds raised from four carriers in a previous auction in 2010.

Winning additional frequency lets mobile-phone companies offer stronger coverage and better connections as more Germans watch videos on mobile phones and tablet computers. This year’s auction, which took three weeks and 181 rounds to complete, featured the first-time sale of blocks of 700 megahertz bands that are occupied by broadcasters and are important for improving broadband coverage in cities. Those frequencies sold for 1 billion euros.

The French government said Friday it’s seeking at least 2.5 billion euros in an auction for six blocks of 700 megahertz frequencies scheduled to take place before the end of the year.

Wireless spectrum is a valuable asset for carriers, which spend billions of dollars every year to improve network coverage as the popularity of data-hogging smartphones and tablets increases and everything from cars to refrigerators gets connected to the Web.

Deutsche Telekom rose 0.8 percent to 15.54 euros at 1:07 p.m. in Frankfurt. Telefonica Deutschland added 2.1 percent to 5.06 euros. Vodafone climbed 0.7 percent to 234.7 pence in London.

The three carriers were vying for four types of frequency. Besides the 700 megahertz band, they were also seeking to renew or add licenses in the 900 megahertz, 1.5 gigahertz and 1.8 gigahertz bands.

Unlike the bands that are already assigned to carriers, the new 700 megahertz bands won’t be immediately available because they’re being used by television broadcasters. Phone carriers will get access to the bands once the television licenses expire, starting next year.

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