Well, that was fast, and not surprising, given that the Swedish government earlier approved four bidders for its 5G spectrum auction.
After one day of auction and four rounds, one bidder won the entire 2.3 GHz band and three bidders won licenses in the 3.5 GHz band. The Swedish Post and Telecom Authority (PTS) said total auction proceeds amounted to SEK2.3 billion, or about $277 million.
Teracom was the winner of 80 MHz in the 2.3 GHz range, while Telia Sverige won 120 MHz in the 3.5 GHz band. Net4Mobility acquired 100 MHz in the 3.5 GHz band, and Hi3G Access also won 100 MHz in the 3.5 GHz band.
Sweden was supposed to hold a 5G spectrum auction in November, but Huawei challenged the auction rules after the Swedish government banned the Chinese vendor from the country’s 5G rollout. The PTS prevailed in a court review, and the auction took place on January 19.
It’s worth nothing that reports surfaced earlier this month that Ericsson CEO Börje Ekholm had lobbied a Swedish minister to reverse the ban on Huawei and ZTE from Sweden’s rollout of 5G.
Huawei is Ericsson’s biggest competitor but they’re also partners, Ekholm told the Dagens Nyheter (DN) newspaper. China accounts for about 8% of Ericsson’s sales and represents a much larger market opportunity than Sweden, which an analyst pointed out in the Global Times is demographically speaking, about half the size of Beijing.
During the company’s third-quarter conference call, Ekholm was asked if he sees any risk in Ericsson’s 5G market position in China if the Chinese government were to retaliate against European vendors. Ekholm replied that countries must decide on the geopolitical situation and national security on their own, but the reality is that Ericsson thrives when there’s competition.
In October, the Swedish PTS announced that four entities were approved for participating in 3.5 GHz and 2.3 GHz auctions: Hi3G Access, Net4Mobility, Telia Sverige and Teracom.
Net4Mobility is a joint venture between Telenor Sweden and Tele2 Sweden. In a statement Tuesday, the two companies said they had finalized their vendor procurement and chosen Ericsson and Nokia as partners for the rollout of their joint nationwide 5G radio access network.
The 100 MHz acquired in the Swedish 3.5 GHz auction combined with the frequencies already won in the 700 MHz auction in 2018 will make it possible to start the nationwide rollout of 5G, they said.
Last year Tele2 launched Sweden’s first 5G network, which now has been rolled out to more than 30 cities in Sweden. The goal is to bring 5G to 99% of consumers within three years, according to Telenor Sweden CEO Kaaren Hilsen.