5G Spectrum auctions in Europe – Policy objectives and auction design

For the rollout of 5G – the newest generation of mobile technology – mobile network operators (MNOs) require access to suitable spectrum to ensure performance and coverage, most notably in the 700 MHz, 3.4-3.8 GHz and 26 GHz frequency bands. In the past four years, almost all regulators in Europe have allocated spectrum in at least some of these 5G frequency bands.

In light of these developments, we take stock in this paper of the 5G spectrum auctions that have happened in Europe so far and investigate which policy objectives policymakers and regulators have pursued and with which instruments.

The main conclusions of our study are