Monday 19 April 2021

Radio silence as Dutch start auction for 5G telecom frequencies


The auction of 5G telecom frequencies kicks off in the Netherlands on Monday, but no-one knows how long the auction will take and the number of bidders is being kept secret.

The previous auction, for 4G frequencies in 2012, raised €3.8bn and this auction is expected to raise far less than that – but the reserve price totals €900m.

KPN, T-Mobile and VodafoneZiggo are among the bidders but whether or not any foreign telecoms firms are taking part is not being revealed, auction master Martijn Meijers said.

Three frequencies are being auctioned: 700, 1,400 and 2,100 MHz.

Once the auction is completed – a process which may take several weeks or even months – telecom providers will be able to activate their 5G services – if ready for launching. Vodafone’s 5G network, which it is currently promoting, is using a frequency allocated for 4G.


The roll-out of 5G in the Netherlands has been hit by both concerns about the impact on public health and about the potential involvement of Chinese tech company Huawei.

The auction documents state that critical parts of the telecom network must be ‘obtained from trusted suppliers’ and that suppliers ‘can also be excluded if they have close ties with or are controlled by foreign authorities or third parties such as businesses or intelligence services.’


Earlier this month local councils said they want the government to coordinate the information around the national rollout of 5G telecom. Local authorities play an important part in the rollout because they have to provide information and are also a party in the negotiations with telecom providers about the locations of new masts.

Some people are concerned about the possible harmful effects of 5G radiation on health, and in September hundreds took to the streets of The Hague in protest.

Several people have also been arrested for arson attacks on dozens of telecom masts.

Telecoms supervisory body Agenschap Telecom and health watchdog RIVM have said radiation from 5G mobile networks testing sites in the Netherlands is within European limits but that is remains important  to ‘keep a finger on the pulse’.

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