- Associated Press - Tuesday, July 21, 2020

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) - A Dutch government auction of frequencies that can be used by mobile telecom companies to provide new, high-speed 5G communications raised 1.23 billion euros ($1.4 billion), the minister responsible for the sale said Tuesday.

Three companies, KPN, T-Mobile and VodafoneZiggo, bought bandwidth, State Secretary for Economic Affairs Mona Keijzer said.

The online auction of 700, 1,400 and 2,100 megahertz frequencies began June 29, with the government saying it should raise a minimum of 900 million euros ($1 billion).

KPN said it spent 416 million euros on a total of 75MHz of spectrum for a period of 20 years.

“The new licenses allow us to further improve the quality of our mobile services and we are excited to soon launch 5G services for our customers,” KPN CEO Joost Farwerck said in a statement.

A 3.5 gigahertz frequency will be auctioned off at a later date because its use for 5G networks could interfere with the work of a satellite communications interception facility in the Northern Netherlands used by Dutch intelligence agencies.

The auction is for bandwidth used by providers and does not directly involve the infrastructure for 5G networks that has been the focus of intense international debate. The U.S. has sought to persuade allies to shun Chinese telecom gear maker Huawei as a 5G infrastructure supplier over fears that the Chinese government could use it for spying or sabotage. Huawei has consistently denied the accusations.

A week ago, Britain backtracked on plans to give Huawei a role in the U.K.’s new high-speed mobile phone network amid security concerns fueled by rising tensions between Beijing and Western powers. Britain said it decided to prohibit Huawei from working on the so-called 5G system after U.S. sanctions made it impossible to ensure the security of equipment made by the Chinese company.

Huawei said the decision threatens to move “Britain into the digital slow lane, push up bills and deepen the digital divide.”

Keijzer said that “critical” parts of the new Dutch 5G infrastructure can only be provided by “trusted suppliers.” However, she said the government has not yet drawn up a list of suppliers telecom companies can use as they build their new high-speed networks.

“I’m not there yet because it needs a very thorough analysis of the situation and I’m doing that together with my colleague, the minister of Justice and Safety,” Keijzer told The Associated Press. “And we haven’t reached a point where we can do so.”

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