The Estonian Technical Surveillance Authority (ETSA), in a press release on 7 January 2014, announced that Tele2 Eesti has won the country’s third block of digital dividend 800MHz (790MHz-862MHz) 4G mobile broadband spectrum after winning a competitive auction. With a starting price of EUR1.597 million (USD2.170 million), Tele2 beat competition from rival bidder Starman. Bids took place over 18 rounds, with Tele2 placing the highest eventual bid of EUR5.098 million. Annual fees for frequency resource usage are EUR24,000. Tele2 released a statement on the same day, saying that it will begin expanding its existing 4G LTE coverage using the new 800MHz licence, with rollout to encompass not only main cities but ‘95% of territory in the first half of this year’. Having previously covered larger cities with its 2600MHz LTE network launched in November 2012, Tele2 has now vowed to improve indoor coverage as well as covering much wider expanses of Estonia using the lower-band spectrum, and it added in its statement that a large part of the network was readied for LTE upgrades even before the auction took place.
TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database notes that Tele2 Eesti’s main mobile rivals were swift to roll out LTE-800 services following the first and second digital dividend block awards last year. TeliaSonera’s Estonian mobile unit EMT grabbed 800MHz frequencies in May 2013, launching LTE services over the frequencies the following month. Likewise, Elisa bagged 800MHz spectrum from ETSA in August 2013 and launched commercial LTE-800 services within days.