FRANKFURT, May 28 (Reuters) - Bids have reached 1.84 billion euros ($2.01 billion) in Germany’s auction of radio frequencies for mobile phone network operators, clearing the most pessimistic estimate just two days into what will be weeks of bidding, data showed.
Germany started the auction on Wednesday, setting a floor at 1.5 billion euros. Some experts had expected it may raise only 20-30 percent above the minimum bids.
After 23 rounds of bidding in two days, the data from the German telecoms regulator showed showed Deutsche Telekom had put in the highest bid of 105.74 million euros for a block of frequencies in the 900 megahertz (MHz) band.
That range of frequencies will be a hot asset for telecoms operators because of the strength of the signal it carries as well as its reach.
The former state monopoly is competing with Telefonica Deutschland and Vodafone.
The regulator had set a minimum price of 75 million euros for blocks in the 900 MHz and 700 MHz bands.
Analysts expect the auction to raise a maximum of 4 to 5 billion euros, a far cry from the 50.8 billion euros the government raised in the auction in 2000 for new 3G network licences, when there were six groups bidding.
Fifteen years later, the number of network operators competing for the mix of 4G frequencies has been reduced from four to three after Telefonica Deutschland bought E-Plus from KPN for 8.6 billion euros last year.
The bidding process follows the principle of the so-called simultaneous multiple round auction (SMRA) and is expected to take a few weeks. ($1 = 0.9161 euros) (Reporting by Harro ten Wolde; Editing by Alison Williams)