Dutch 4G auction raises €3.8bn

Four mobile operators have bid several billion euros for 4G licences in the Netherlands - with the incumbent KPN having to cut its dividends as a result.

The Netherlands has raised €3.8bn after auctioning off several tranches of 4G LTE spectrum.

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Four mobile operators were awarded spectrum, the Dutch government's telecoms agency said on Friday: Vodafone, T-Mobile, Dutch incumbent KPN and Tele2, a Swedish company that has operated as an MVNO in the Netherlands for 10 years.

In total, 41 licences covering several spectrum bands - 800MHz, 900MHz, 1800MHz, 2.1GHz and 2.6GHz - were auctioned off, with most of the licences lasting 17 years.

Tele2 took two of the licences, Vodafone took nine, with KPN and T-Mobile taking 15 each.

Due to the amount it spent on the licences – €1.35bn – KPN has cut its dividend, shelving the final dividend to shareholders for this year, and reducing those for 2013. "KPN is convinced that the acquired licenses will generate a good return on investment," the company said in a statement.

KPN said it will roll out 4G LTE services from February next year, and will achieve nationwide coverage in the second half of 2014.