Die 5G-Lizenzen sind mit 6,5 Mrd. € deutlich über den Preiserwartungen (ca. 4,0 Mrd. €) vergeben und nun? Wie können die Käufer den Erwartungen und Verpflichtungen gerecht werden? Insights dazu in unserer aktuellen Studie.
Deutscher Telekommunikationsmarkt nach Abschluss der Frequenzauktion: Finanzierungsstrategien und potenzielle Marktentwicklungen
5G Spectrum: Post-
and market dynamics
01 August 2019
All Rights Reserved — EY 5G Spectrum: Post-auction strategies and market dynamics 2
Table of contents
5G auctions results summary and pressure on operators.................................................................... 4
5G’s financial implications................................................................................................................. 4
Strategies to reduce TCO.................................................................................................................. 5
5G IT operationalizing challenges...................................................................................................... 6
5G digital business: More lucrative than network connectivity alone ................................................... 8
The arrival of a fourth Player and changing market dynamics ............................................................. 8
Drillisch MBA MVNO agreement with Telefonica................................................................................. 8
Fourth Player - key challenges .......................................................................................................... 8
New entrant network rollout regulatory requirements........................................................................ 9
Potential network operator scenario for fourth Player........................................................................ 9
Conclusion ..................................................................................................................................... 10
List of Abbreviations ...................................................................................................................... 10
All Rights Reserved — EY 5G Spectrum: Post-auction strategies and market dynamics 3
One of the longest auctioning processes, Germany reportedly raised a record €6.5 billion ($7.4 billion) by
offering 5G spectrum in various frequency bands to telecom carriers. With over €1.5 billion higher prices
than expected prior auction, the carriers in Germany need to find cost efficient solutions to build the 5G
network. This paper focuses on post-auction scenarios ranging from effects due to the entry of a new
player to changes in market dynamics for incumbents. It covers financial challenges, TCO optimization
strategies with references from global markets, and EY’s point of view on how to efficiently monetize 5G
EY Global Leader Telecom Transaction Advisory Services
Dr. Georg Beckmann,
EY GSA Leader Telecom Operational Transaction Advisory
EY Global Telecom Market Analyst
All Rights Reserved — EY 5G Spectrum: Post-auction strategies and market dynamics 4
5G auctions results summary and pressure on operators
Following almost 500 rounds of bidding over a three-month period, Germany’s spectrum auction finally
ended, raising a total of €6,550 mn. The outcome shows that bidders ascribed more value to the 2 GHz
band – with average bids of 20 Euro/Hz – than to the 3.6 GHz band, where average bids stood at around
€10/Hz. This is due to more favourable propagation characteristics of lower frequencies: the same
coverage can be achieved with less base stations. After 457 rounds1
the bids for spectrum in the 2
GHz/3.6 GHz range stabilized, with four frequency blocks allocated to Deutsche Telekom and Vodafone,
while Telefonica and 1und1 Drillisch each provided the highest bids for two blocks. The 2 GHz blocks with
earlier availability each received a bid in the €210 mn. range, while the bids for those blocks available in
2026 raised around €170 mn. each. The bids for the 3.6 GHz blocks were at this stage still in the €100
Mio. range. The four successful bidders are Deutsche Telekom, which spent €2.2bn, Vodafone (€1.9bn),
Telefónica (€1.4bn) and Drillisch (€1.1bn).
Figure 1: 3.6GHz and 2GHz finalized pricing and operator wise distribution
5G’s financial implications
Telcos which perpetuate the network ownership model would be presented with two main challenges.
Firstly, they would be laden with burdensome capital outlays – required to enhance current
telecommunication infrastructure – estimated to be 2.5x of current levels over the next five years. Their
cash flows might also hamper their ability to obtain financing for these capital expenditures at favorable
rates. Secondly, additional expenditure from operating the 5G equipment would cause a drag on their
earnings. Outside the US market, capital intensity at Deutsche Telekom has already soared from 14% in
2013 to 20% last year and will increase further with these latest spectrum investments. Proponents of 5G
have advocated small cells, and closely located content servers, as the solution to fulfil 5G requirements
of high speed and throughput, low latency, full coverage, and high reliability. Small cells are standalone
base stations, which can serve a relatively small area and a few users simultaneously. To achieve
gigabyte-level speeds and low latency connectivity for all base stations, the implementation of 5G will
likely result in a phased increase in capex and operating costs (OPEX) for telcos. Telco network providers
would incur significantly higher CAPEX and OPEX as they need to deploy:
• Thousands of small cells densely located in a given area.2
• Link up with high bandwidth connections of IOT, MEC and smart devices and keep them powered
throughout the day.
• The integrated fail-safe mechanisms.3
• 2-3x capex burden of 5G will be prohibitively high for telos, the existing network providers, to bear
All Rights Reserved — EY 5G Spectrum: Post-auction strategies and market dynamics 5
As a result, German operators should plan their 5G rollout strategies very carefully, ensuring they do not
jeopardise return on investment (ROI) during the period of 5G ramp-up. EY offers a three-way strategy to
ensure maximization of ROI from 5G rollout:
1. Controlling the total cost of ownership (TCO) by planning the extent and pace of 5G rollout.
2. Changing ownership structure and target operating models.
3. Increasing the convergence of network access technologies.
Strategies to reduce TCO
Figure 2: 5G deployment models
CY ROIC 5G roll out requirements 5G models CY+5 ROIC
~1ms round trip
per unit area
Lease 5G Network
No 5G Capital outlay by
telcos and savings from
Share 5G Network
Reduced 5G capital outlay
and less savings from
lower capex outweigh 5G
driven revenue growth
Own 5G Network
Highest 5G capital outlay
and depreciation charges
Support 1 million
devices per sqkm
Network slicing for
§ Embedded sensors in
industrial, commercial and
§ Reliable Low-Latency
control a smart-grid, self-
driving vehicles, robotics and
§ Enhanced event experience
§ 5G powered microservices and
cloud native appsMillimetre wave
beamformingHA / DR / XDCR
Digital Business Models
2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018
DT non-US capex 5.9 6.2 6.6 6.8 7.5 7.8
DT non-US revenues 41.6 40.3 40.3 39.4 39.2 39.1
DT non-US capital intensity 14% 16% 16% 17% 19% 20%
Orange capex 5.6 5.6 6.5 7.0 7.2 7.4
Orange revenues 41.0 39.4 40.2 40.9 41.1 41.4
Orange capital intensity 14% 14% 16% 17% 17% 18%
Telefonica capex 8.2 8.2 8.0 8.6 8.2 7.3
Telefonica revenues 57.1 50.4 47.2 52.0 52.0 48.7
Telefonica capital intensity 14% 16% 17% 16% 16% 15%
Total capex 19.7 20.0 21.1 22.4 22.8 22.5
Total revenues 139.6 130.1 127.8 132.3 132.3 129.2
Total capital intensity 14% 15% 17% 17% 17% 17%
Table 1: German Operators Capex and Sales (€B)
(Sources: Annual reports, CapitalIQ, EY Estimates)
All Rights Reserved — EY 5G Spectrum: Post-auction strategies and market dynamics 6
With the 5G implementation, MNOs will be faced with changes to both their own operating models and
their supplier contracts as they strive to reduce TCO. A rollout through interim technologies (LTE-
Advanced) will reduce 5G’s massive capex and facilitate faster adoption. A site fully evolved with 4G and
5G capacity will deliver mobile data 6-8x times more cost efficiently than a basic 4G site(efficiency will
depend on network architecture and Micro/Macro cell mix) . Multi Phased rollout would ensure increased
time to market and enable a supporting ecosystem to develop; spectrum reframing of lower bands and
building extreme coverage Increasing cell radius will reduce the number of sites for coverage, compared
to higher frequencies. Significant multiple input, multiple output (MIMO) investments will enhance the
capacity of the networks and is reusable at the 5G layer.
Figure 3: 5G TCO optimization strategies
Further TVO optimization can be broken down into 4 border categories:
1. Technology optimisation: Using low bands for rural and indoor urban and medium-to-high bands for
Massive MIMO and 5G will enhance capex efficiency for coverage gains; advanced MIMO and carrier
aggregation can provide further improvements to capacity.
2. Passive infrastructure optimisation: Replacement of microwave backhaul by fibre and optimisation
of antennas; optimisation of site locations and requirements; renegotiation of tower company
contracts (i.e., to seek increases in spectrum with a minimal rise in rental fees).
3. Network and infrastructure sharing: Significant capex and opex savings are available through the
promotion of an ecosystem of infrastructure players that can co-ordinate asset and infrastructure
sharing between MNOs. Increasing tenancy ratios per site and achieving active sharing (MORAN,
MOCN, roaming) of network elements for rural coverage will help meet regulatory stipulations and
modernisation of the radio access network (RAN).
4. Virtualization: Integration of network elements with cloud and adoption of network functions
virtualization will reduce the cost of active networks and help generate economies of scale. This
would result in optimized power and frequency spectrum use.
5G IT operationalizing challenges
In order to capitalize the 5G monitorization opportunities, organizations need to operationalize fast data
and make them usable to take informed business decisions in-event and in real-time. Network slicing, NFV,
1. Technology Optimisation 2. Passive infrastructure
• New technology to boost
capacity of existing grid
• Advance MIMO and carrier
• Spectrum reframing of 2G/3G
technologies and building 5G
• Antenna optimisation
• Replacement of MW backhaul
• C-RAN architecture:
Optimisation of site
requirements & site location
• Renegotiation of towerco
• Capture higher share of
• Sharing/ coordinating assets
and infrastructure services
with other operators
• Active sharing (MORAN,
• Nationwide at the time of new
technology introduction /
major modernisation of RAN
• Rural when regulator forces
extension of coverage
3. Network and Infrastructure
• RAN is one of the costliest domains in the construction of a network, and it is a key area CSPs will be keen
to virtualize to reap cost savings.
• Most of the elemental Core network elements such as EPC/IMS is already virtualized
4. Virtualization of Network
All Rights Reserved — EY 5G Spectrum: Post-auction strategies and market dynamics 7
and SDN are new approaches adopted by CSPs to drive operational efficiency, agility, and deliver new
profitable business models.
The high device density and much faster network speed will generate massive volumes of data streaming
in at blazing fast speeds. 5G apps and services will have to keep-up, by performing transactional
processing and analytics on streaming data in real-time. Real-time now means milliseconds, 5G demands
moving from post event reconciliation to in-event data processing. If action is not taken immediately, the
opportunity to monetize an event is lost.
The new business models driven by 5G: QoS/provisioning models, and opportunities to deploy new cloud
microservices closer to the edge will drive new requirements on the existing infrastructure.
Some of the key impacts or strategies for IT transformation:
1. 5G microservices: Unlike 4G, the 5G Technology stack is data intensive. 5G core functions are split
out into granular components, each with specific functions. These become highly scalable and
distributed apps that are rolled out in a hybrid cloud model, to be deployed as necessary and this
architecture, real-time interaction between the components and with dynamic third-party components
is critical. 5G microservices need to be spun up at a moment’s notice to meet demand.
2. Requirements for Edge computing: 5G is expected to enable zillions of connected devices (i.e. things)
powering IoT. Sensor data from industrial equipment / products, buildings, utility meters, vehicles,
residential devices, wearables, etc. will be generated at volumes too large to transport and store in a
centralized data centre. Additionally, a vast number of Industrial IoT use cases, such as predictive
maintenance demand processing data in real-time, the risk of a delay can mean equipment downtime
and loss of revenue. This demand for real-time, high volume data processing can only be met by edge
3. Acceleration of Cloud migration: The scale, elasticity, agility, responsiveness and rich software
functionality required for 5G microservices can only be achieved in the cloud. While lower CAPEX &
OPEX is an additional benefit of being in the cloud. Today, NFV is done on virtual machines, and virtual
machines will be continuing to be utilized in an 5G environment, containers will shoulder the bulk of
the load in building and deploying 5G microservices.
4. Linearly scalable Data platforms: 5G networks will generate vast multitudes of streaming data from
not only 5G enabled apps, but also from the network, subscribers, enterprise users, network operators
and call processing. It would be essential for the 5G database to scale linearly at a moment’s notice
while maintaining the high performance and low latency requirements all along.
5. Fast Data Challenges: Network slicing, NFV, and SDN are new approaches adopted by CSPs to drive
operational efficiency, agility, and deliver new profitable business models. The high device density and
much faster network speed will generate massive volumes of data streaming in at blazing fast speeds.
5G apps and services will have to keep-up, by performing transactional processing and analytics on
streaming data in real-time. This will require IT and application landscape transformations with
development of 5G specific microservices, Embedded Machine Learning based platforms, Kubernetes
Orchestration and cloud ready core and access nodes.
6. Distributed cloud-native architectures : Savings in capital and operating expenditures through the
deployment of distributed cloud-native architectures that foster new service models, standard open
interfaces and rapid innovation – each of which is imminently achievable. The technology shift marks a
distinct departure from a traditional telco mindset to web-scale deployments and speeds, including
fundamental changes in how operators engage with suppliers as they adopt new and innovative
software licensing models.
Changes in ownership structure and target operating models
Infrastructure sharing concepts are evolving from traditional models to new forms of service agreement,
where the burden of network ownership and operations shifts to the network supplier. These new business
models can help the companies realize improvements in return on invested capital (ROIC). A clear shift
towards independent Tower Co ownership model may help MNOs to expedite their 5G service launches.
The allure of 5G’s enhanced capabilities and wide range of applications is, however, accompanied by an
unprecedented slew of highly demanding technical standards and specifications. We believe the sheer
All Rights Reserved — EY 5G Spectrum: Post-auction strategies and market dynamics 8
intensity of 5G-related operational and capital requirements will trigger a paradigm shift in telcos’
business models and financial returns. While telcos may decide to retain full ownership and
implementation of their 5G networks, this traditional model may limit their long-term ability to capitalize
on new demand scenarios, meet regulatory obligations and generate adequate financial returns.
Under a 5G wholesale model telcos would access 5G capabilities from a single national wholesale provider,
and achieve 15-25% increase ROIC, comparable to that under the 5G network sharing model. This occurs
as the absence of additional capital outlays is mitigated by lease payments to the single network provider.
5G digital business: More lucrative than network connectivity alone
Gartner’s forecasts suggest that IoT will support total services spending of US$263bn by 2020, and only
US$32bn of the total IoT service opportunity or 12.3% is attributable to connectivity services.5
revenue base of telcos’ fixed and mobile revenue is large, it will translate to less than 3% of their total
revenue. Conversely, the revenues attributable to digital services and applications are approximately
seven times that of connectivity services, comparable to approximately 21% of the existing telco market.
In addition to IoT, there is an array of fast-growing digital segments that telcos can establish themselves
in. For example, telcos own a great deal of data such as customer demographics, spending patterns,
commonly-visited locations, websites, all of which could be used to provide targeted advertising solutions
for digital advertisers. Telcos could also potentially re-use these significant customer data assets to
establish themselves in the Big Data analytics segment. Telcos naturally have an advantage in Big Data
with the sheer amount of data that they hold, perceived as a trustworthy partner. Many telcos already use
this data to customise their offerings to reduce churn rates or predict customer behaviours to offer
proactive solutions. Telcos could also venture into not-so-obvious segments such as production of virtual
reality (VR) content. Albeit more expensive, integrating acquisitions with the telcos’ existing operations
would be easier. With 5G, CSPs can create customized network slices that cater to the unique needs of
each industry vertical and focus of all the required attributes for each unique use case. A IoT solutions
provider would have their own dedicated network slice that would provide the low latency and reliability
required for M2M communication. While an AR vendor would have a network slice with high bandwidth and
low latency that is necessary to transmit large video files.
The arrival of a fourth Player and changing market dynamics
New entrant 1&1 Drillisch, until now a United Internet controlled MVNO, paid €1.07bn for 70 MHz of
spectrum. Drillisch, which also has the rights to rent some Telefonica capacity through 20256
, will change
the dynamics in the German Telco sector.
Drillisch MBA MVNO agreement with Telefonica
Drillisch concluded a MBA MVNO agreement with Telefonica Deutschland (hereafter referred to as TEFD)
on 20 June 2014. Under the deal, Telefonica will grant MS Mobile access to up to 30% of the network
capacity, for all technologies. The duration of the agreement is five years and can be extended by means
of two five-year call options held by MS Mobile (Drillisch wholly owned subsidiaries in past, currently a
merged entity). In return, MS Mobile has agreed to take over at least 20% of the present and future
network capacity for new customers, using a glide path. Additionally, a certain minimum Network
(Erlang/Mbps) capacity has been defined for existing customers. MS Mobile will also initially take over 50
shop locations from Telefonica, with the option of acquiring up to 550 additional locations.
Fourth Player - key challenges
Becoming a network operator can make sense in the long run for the following reasons:
1.Rising wholesale costs: A captive network means no more payment to other service providers under
its MBA MVNO agreements.
2.Synergy Creation: Substantial synergies in 5G are likely, as United Internet (which owns 73% of
Drillisch shares) could leverage its c. 50,000 km fibre network (the second-largest in Germany), for 5G
All Rights Reserved — EY 5G Spectrum: Post-auction strategies and market dynamics 9
3.New digital growth opportunities: Alongside general B2C opportunities (i.e., switching from 4G to 5G)
and an increase in fixed wireless uptake, 5G would also open up B2B opportunities (IoT services and
applications, including vertical-specific use cases such as smart manufacturing and autonomous
driving, etc.). Lastly, it could also offer wholesale services through its own network.
4.Favorable roll-out conditions and regulatory support: The build-out regulatory requirements for
newcomers are lower than for current operators. Hence, it could only target urban areas (with better
ROICs) until 2030.
New entrant network rollout regulatory requirements
The build-out requirements for operators are as follows:
1. 98% population coverage - incl. federal highways, key regional roads, key railways - with 100Mbit/s
2. 98% population coverage with 300Mbit/s by 2025.
3. Offer 100Mbps on all regional roads and all state and local roads as well as ports, key waterways, and
other railways at 50Mbp/s by 2025.
4. Enable a latency time of 10ms along roads.
However, new entrants have reduced coverage demands. They must supply 25% of households with 5G by
2023 and 50% by 2025, while a build-out in the large cities will suffice in the early years.
Potential network operator scenario for fourth Player
To establish a 5G network, new entrants have to take following key steps (based on past learnings from
1 National roaming/existing pre-service payments:
The overall payment to other network providers (MBA MVNO, MVNO contracts, and national roaming) will
continue to increase for a few years as the newcomer will have substantial coverage gaps. We assume that
a national roaming agreement will expire by 2030E.
2. Passive infrastructure (i.e., towers)
For an ideal nationwide coverage, new entrant would need more than 15,000 base stations (for
comparison: market leader DT has 29,000 macro sites7
). For rollout in cities, 10,000 base stations may
suffice in the early years. At an estimated rental cost of c. €15,000 per tower a year, it would cost €225
Mm. a year.
3. Active infrastructure
Active infrastructure would most likely cost an additional €10,000 - 15,000 per tower if leased and thus
an additional €150 – 225 mn. a year, which will increase over time.
4. Mobile backhaul and IT
Most synergies are available in 5G mobile fibre backhaul infrastructure as United Internet already owns
the second largest fibre optic network in Germany (c. 50,000 km) and could use its own infrastructure to
some extent. Otherwise, costs of leasing existing fibre infrastructure would reach estimated €50 – 100
mn. a year (assuming cost of € 0.5/subscriber/month).
Challenges facing Drillisch’s network rollout plans
There might be several challenges for Drillisch’s plans to enter the market:
1.Scale considerations: It was challenging for new entrant fourth players to gain significant traction in
the past’ – worth noting that players that have entered fourth in the 2G or 3G market are still
operating in many markets today (even if market share is sub-10%)
2.Several items such as national roaming and access to passive infrastructure, have time limitations,
thus requiring a fast rollout.
All Rights Reserved — EY 5G Spectrum: Post-auction strategies and market dynamics 10
3.5G antennae will only work with 5G handsets and thus, until 5G handsets become mainstream,
fourth player would need to pay for national roaming while simultaneously rolling out its 5G
4.Due to constraints on space (on urban infrastructure) and radiation limits (requiring permission of
landlords) new entrant will have to try to use other MNO’s passive infrastructure or get access to
the same rooftops.
5.Technical challenges during the handover phase from national roaming host to Drillisch’s own
network could potentially impact customer perception.
6.Regulatory risks: Fourth player could only opt to build an urban 5G network and use national
roaming to provide coverage in rural areas but might not be allowed by the regulator.
New dynamics in the German telco market with a fourth player and financial challenges due to 5G coverage
obligations will require innovative answers by the incumbents. New strategies of sharing and cooperation
will arise among the MNO’s and between MNO’s and other parties to lay the foundation to efficiently
monetize 5G digital opportunities. 5G can drive the transformation of Telco services/network architecture
and wireless network economics by changing the overlaying architectures and operating models that foster
new service models, standard open interfaces and rapid innovation in Network sharing and virtualization
List of Abbreviations
1. 5G: Fifth Generation
2. CAPEX: Capital expenditure
3. CSP: Cellular Service Provider
4. DT: Deutsche Telekom
5. FTTH: Fiber To The Home
6. GB: Giga Byte
7. Gbps: Gigabytes per second
8. IoT: Internet of Things
9. LTE: Long-Term Evolution
10. MBA: Mobile Bitrate Agreement
11. MEC: Mobile Edge Computing
12. MNO: Mobile Network Operator
13. MOCN: Multi Operator Core Network
14. MORAN: Multi Operator Radio Access
All Rights Reserved — EY 5G Spectrum: Post-auction strategies and market dynamics 11
15. MVNO: Mobile Virtual Network Operator
16. MIMO: multiple-input and multiple-output
17. OPEX: Operating Expenditure
18. SDN: Software Defined Networking
19. TCO: Total Cost of Ownership
20. TVO: Total Value of Ownership
21. TEFD: Telefonica Deutschland
22. Telcos: Telecommunication Companies
23. TVO: Total Value of Ownership
24. VM: Virtual machines