One of the main advantages of spectrum auctions is that the regulator does not need to worry about the best possible use of spectrum. Rather than second-guessing what people want, auctions allow the magic of the market to put the spectrum to its best use.
But the German regulator, Bundesnetzagentur, has taken a different approach to the 450 MHz band. Earlier this week, it announced it had completed a beauty contest of the spectrum. The frequencies will be re-assigned to a consortium of regional energy providers and municipal utilities.
So why would Germany take such an approach? Why would it be so confident it knows the best use for the spectrum?
In an updated profile, we find that demand for the 450 MHz band is primarily coming from such niche use cases. Smart grid providers, for example, are attracted to the band for its excellent propagation qualities.
They are also often able to win licences for the spectrum, even in conventional auctions, as mobile broadband providers decline to participate in competitions for narrow bandwidths. The winner of a 2020 Danish auction of the band, for example, is expected to use the band for its LoRaWAN IoT network.
Given these trends, and the global need to transform our energy grids for a low-carbon future, it is perhaps not so surprising that Germany took this approach. According to BNetza, reliability, specialist knowledge, performance, and the concept of frequency usage were decisive in its decision.
The 450 MHz band profile is available to Spectrum Research Service subscribers here.