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Licence auction brings windfall for public coffers

The government has earned nearly SFr600 million from the auction of Wireless Local Loop (WLL) licences - about twice as much as it had expected.

The WLL is considered the ‘last mile’ in linking households and providers without requiring a fixed cable network. The Federal Office for Communications held the auction over the Internet – the first time in Europe a government body has done so.

The office said it brought in SFr583 million francs for three national and 31 regional licences. The national ones were auctioned for SFr 120, 134 and 55 million respectively.

Nine companies bid successfully for one or more licences. The office said most of the firms were multinationals, and most of them backed by American investors. The licences are valid for ten years.

Two of the companies, Sunrise and Commcare, are already active in the Swiss telecommunications market.

Despite the better-than-expected result, the office said it was unable to find buyers for 14 of the 45 regional licences covering large parts of eastern and southern Switzerland. The office said it will put these licences up for auction again in June, and may split the three regions into smaller areas to make them more attractive.

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR