WARSAW, Oct 15 (Reuters) - Poland's auction of radio spectrum for 4G mobile broadband network operators has raised 9.23 billion zlotys ($2.5 billion) in bids, almost six times the initial target, the regulator UKE said on Thursday.
The auction, which has been running since February, was expected to raise 1.6 billion zlotys for state coffers, but operators considered the blocks of frequencies a must-have in order to be able to offer faster 4G services.
Four operators were bidding - divisions of France's Orange , Deutsche Telekom and media group Cyfrowy Polsat, and P4, controlled by Greek businessman Panos Germanos's Olympia Development.
The regulator put up for sale five 800 MHz blocks, sought after for their longer reach and better penetration of buildings than the 14 blocks of higher capacity 2.6 GHz bands also on offer. Each bidder could buy no more than two 800 MHz blocks and four 2.6 GHz blocks.
The best bids for 800 MHz blocks ranged between 1.5-2.1 billion zlotys, and 38-105 million zlotys for 2.6 GHz.
UKE did not say who won the blocks. Its spokesman told Reuters the full results would be revealed in the coming days.
However, P4, said it had won one 800 MHz block and four blocks of 2.6 GHz frequencies.
P4, as well as Cyfrowy Polsat's mobile unit Polkomtel , already had access to some 4G frequencies, giving them a head start in the market.
They both opposed the Polish government's decision last month to set a deadline for the auction to close, after it had dragged on for months.
Analysts say the high prices paid could lead to higher prices for phone users but might also weigh on profitability and therefore future dividend payouts, particularly for market leader Orange Polska which was viewed as the operator under most pressure to secure the new spectrum. ($1 = 3.7160 zlotys) (Reporting by Adrian Krajewski; Editing by Greg Mahlich)