back to article Finns fail to warm to 2.6GHz auction

Ofcom may be sweating at the news that the Finnish auction of 2.6GHz raised only €3.8m. The regulator is hoping to raise a lot more when the same spectrum is auctioned off in the UK next year. Earlier auctions in Sweden and Norway raised €230m and €29m respectively, with the Norwegian figure reflecting the limited application …


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  1. pAnoNymous

    digital dividend?

    whose dividend? it's our spectrum, they should give it pack - for more interactive/HD content on Freeview - we're already losing one interactive stream to make way for HD.

    tv viewer

  2. Jason Togneri

    Reluctant Finns

    "Auction systems are less open to bias, or outright corruption, and much cheaper to organise, but not something to which the Finns are used and that may explain the reluctance to bid higher."

    That's certainly true. From my years of living in Finland, I can safely say that the Finns would find it perfectly normal to turn up to the regulator's office, take a numbered ticket, wait for their turn, and take what they were given. They would then go home, via a state-moderated alcohol shop, and drink their horse-piss local beer or take shots of "it-may-look-and-taste-like-vodka-but-it's-not-vodka-honest-guv" Koskenkorva and quietly lament their lot in life. They would then get dressed the next morning, go to work, and set about organising their share of the bandwidth. Auction systems may be cheaper and less open to bias or outright corruption, but the Finnish system as a whole is "less open to bias or outright corruption" and therefore doesn't feel the need for an auction system in the first place. Sad but true.

  3. Steen Hive


    "Auction systems are less open to bias, or outright corruption, and much cheaper to organise, but not something to which the Finns are used and that may explain the reluctance to bid higher"

    Indeed. That certainly goes a long way why Finland has a higher mobile penetration rate, vastly better service and nearly total coverage in a country 1/3 bigger than the UK, and with a population density 1/15 that of the UK. Why should Finns tolerate having good coverage within 100m of the railway station in Helsinki, with their shared resources propping up foreign pension funds and banks?

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    "[T]he regulator then awards the licence to the company it feels will offer the best service. That's "best" for the citizens, not the treasury coffers or company's shareholders."

    Now I'm glad I learned Finnish at university.

    Hei, hei!

  5. Trev 2

    After 3G, is anyone going to bid?

    Don't understand all the technical reasons why they need so much of the frequency range, but economically after the whole 3G auction suggestions that they way over paid for something that won't make them a return, are any of them going to bid?

    There's also the news about T-Orange mobile or whatever they'll be called already having a huge chunk of the frequency band so presumably they don't want any of this currently?

    Finally one thing that confuses me is that they went / are going digital with TV which was supposed to compress everything into a much smaller chunk of frequencies. So if that's the case and the mobiles did this years ago, why do they need all these extra frequencies?

  6. Eddie Edwards

    Auctions are less biased?

    "Auction systems are less open to bias"

    What are you talking about? Auctions are biased in favour of those with deep pockets. Witness El Reg's previous articles on radio mic allocations.

    The previous system may have been biased in favour of the public good, but it's not clear you can call that a "bias" when allocating shared resources. Tilting the entire process in favour of multinational corporations is a slightly more pernicious bias, if you ask me.

    "even changing economic times can't completely explain why the Swedish auction raised so little."

    Or why the Finnish one did ...?

    Never mind, if the UK auctions don't raise enough the govt can always tax the hell out of the buyer. It's not like govts are short of options for raising stealth taxes, as Labour has demonstrated quite well over the last decade.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up


    The Finns are a clever bunch. They 'bid' on a spectrum at a reasonable price and they give us highly usable none-touchscreen Nokia phones, even if it looks 'boring'.

    Where as us in Britain buys phones because they 'look nice' and have nice icons where we can touch them, and pay a king's ransom for our 3G frequencies.

  8. Anonymous Coward

    Are you listening Ofcom?

    "the purpose is to ensure efficient use of spectrum not raise money for the exchequer"

    Good. Now that we've cleared that up for you, please stop all this DVB-T2 nonsense and just give us Freeview HD on a standard that most of us can already receive (i.e. DVB-T).

    Not going to happen is it, because Ofcom actually DO think that their raison d'etre is to raise money for the government, not to manage the spectrum for the benefit of the voters.

  9. Steve Todd


    Wrong frequency band. This is for 2.6GHz spectrum. UHF TV runs in the range 470-862MHz, which is particularly valuable for cellular and comms companies because of it's mix of range and bandwidth. Offcom should show a little sense and hand at least some of the 17 frequency bands freed up by the conversion, but moving to 8K COFDM, 64QAM and DVB-T2 will allow more channels and HD to be broadcast in the currently allocated space.

    The 2.6GHz band is being pushed as a common European 3G (UTMS) cellular frequency.

  10. Andus McCoatover

    Once bitten, twice shy?

    Do folks have such brief memories they forget the stupid prices paid in the UK for a chunk of spectrum (which, of course nobody 'owns'), and the result of that?

    We're in a bloody recession, FFS - Finnish dwellers like me on the dole are forced to shop for food at Lidl, not more luxurious shops like K-Market or Stockmann.

    So we go for the cheapest phone deal we can find. Bollocks to high-end phones, we wanna just call our mates, not watch bloody TV or do funny multimedia downloads. The manufacturers haven't grasped it, pushing new 'must-have' features on the latest shiny phones. HEY!! Wakey-Wakey!! Most folks wanna talk on the phone, that's all !!

    The Network Operators know this. CAPEX/OPEX, they've been here before.

    Wonder why network operators here are struggling? Finns are by nature generally very frugal, making even the Scots (renowned to be as tight as a duck's arse on an MP's lake) look extravagant.

    In short, no surprise to me.

  11. Richard 12 Silver badge

    What 'digital dividend'?

    OFCOM are actually stealing the frequencies previously administered by the BEIRG for the production of television shows, film, theatre, churches, political rallies and such events.

    Most of it was never being used for broadcast in the first place, but for the microphones and IEMs that make shows like ITV's X-Factor and the BBC's Strictly Come Dancing possible.

    OFCOM have claimed that they're offering Channel 38 as a 'replacement' that offers 'the exact same benefits' - but this is not true. Channel 38 is currently being used by Radio Astronomy, so all they're trying to do is an eviction chain - throwing the astronomers out completely.

    On top of that, we were using channels 67 thru 69, and a few more for some events with very large numbers of channels required. Not just Channel 69.

  12. N2 Silver badge

    its wrong

    What will they do next, auction fresh air?

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Re: What 'digital dividend'?

      OFCOM should be congratulated for their work to improve shows such as ITV's NoTalent and BBC's Talentless Dancing.

      While carefully applied machine gun fire would be more effective, OFCOM's approach seems less likely to create trouble with the law as long as no one is OFCOM is "too tall" or carrying a camera for "terrorist purposes".....

  13. Dazed and Confused


    Ofcom might "officially" not be concerned with how much money they raise but you can bet that they are expected to raise the multi-quadzillions that the 3G auction got. If they don't none of the tops guys on the Quango gravy train is going to be there much longer. The treasury want mucho wonger, if the current incumbents don't produce it, they'll be replaced with people who can.

  14. foo_bar_baz

    History 101

    There's a bit of historical baggage with frequency auctions in Finland. The Finnish ex-incumbent Sonera pissed away billions in Germany during the first 3G auction craze, billions that eventually had to be written off as losses. It destroyed the company's value. Sonera was eventually bou^H^H^H merged with the Swedish Telia at less than favourable terms.

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  16. TeeCee Gold badge

    Don't understand.

    I'd have thought that Operators would be falling over each other to aquire as much as possible to enhance their eco-credentials.

    After all, Spectrum Is Green.

    Mine's the one with the SPV keys in the pocket.

  17. Luther Blissett

    If I ran a network

    Given the sorry state of affair we have arrived at, I for one would be thinking of arranging Xmas rounds of golf, skiing trips in the Caingorms, Finnish saunas, etc with my competitors (all in the name of Auld Lang Sine, you understand) with a view to putting in an uncontested bid of GBP 1. Illegal of course, but who would be there to collect the evidence? And besides, is it not self-evident that such a result would be the best possible outcome for the consumer?

  18. Richard Freeman

    who in their right mind would want 2.6Ghz?????

    I mean seriously - its within a fraction of an octave to 2.4Ghz so any user inside a house is likely to lose connectivity when they use their microwave oven, you will suffer signal loss when it rains or is foggy (I guess you get that with microwave links anyway).

    Below 2Ghz spectrum is probably worth money but above 2Ghz??

    1. Andus McCoatover

      @ Richard Freeman - I think it's deliberate...

      If I understand, the choice of frequency near the water absorption frequency is to _deliberately_ reduce the range, so cell planning is easier. More smaller cells rather than a few big ones gives better 3G data rates - there's only so many orthogonal Walsh codes (which separate the users), and more users slide the Walsh codes 'up the Walsh Tree' - less users can be fit in.

      It's been a few years since I was trained on 3G technology, so I might have got it wrong but..

      The microwave shouldn't affect a spread-spectrum signal, being a (relatively) singular entity - it shouldn't appear in the mobile's decoder. That's one of the beauties of spread-spectrum.

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