Meanwhile UK parent embarks on £1.5bn share buy-back programme
Vodafone’s Dutch offshoot has splashed out €1.4 billion on licensing new spectrum to underpin its 4G ambitions across the region. Valid for 17 years, Vodafone Netherlands has acquired six tranches of spectrum in the 800, 900 and 1800 MHz bands. Like the UK, the Netherlands has lagged behind in 4G roll-out, despite the fact that more than half of the country’s mobile users have smartphones. Up until now it has also had only three mobile operators with their own networks – KPN, T-Mobile and Vodafone – who in turn allow other operators to use their airwaves. But with the trio’s own licenses due to end in February 2013, the Dutch mobile market is expected to go into overdrive as 4G spectrum becomes widely available.
The Netherlands’ third biggest player, Vodafone’s parent company in the UK is meanwhile in the throes of bidding for 4G spectrum there where arch rival EE has a head start.
With its revenues recently dented by poor returns from southern Europe markets, aligned with the cost of acquiring 4G spectrum worldwide, Vodafone has also recently embarked on a £1.5 billion share buy back programme to keep its stock price buoyant, an exercise which started this week and ends in February 2013.
FOOTNOTE: Dutch telecommunications group KPN has confirmed it paid €1.35 billion to license 15 blocks of infrared bandwidth in the auction, but the cost will mean it axing this year’s final dividend and reducing it next year.
The auction by the Netherlands’ Telecom Agency raised €3.8 billion in total, far higher than the €400 million-€500 million the government expected.
KPN, 28 per cent of which is owned by Mexican telecoms tycoon Carlos Slim, says it will begin offering 4G services to some customers within two months.