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Six parties interested in German mobile auction

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Germany’s telecom regulator has received six requests to take part in the country’s biggest digital frequency auction scheduled for early in the second quarter, the watchdog said on Thursday.

The regulator will examine the applications and decide if they qualify, it said.

A spokesman declined to say who the interested companies were but Deutsche Telekom, Vodafone, Telefonica’s O2 Germany and Dutch KPN’s German unit E-Plus are expected to be among those asking to be admitted as bidders.

The auction centres on licences for spectrum that will be freed up in the switchover from analogue to digital terrestrial television -- also known as the digital dividend.

It is part of an effort to speed the rollout of broadband communications and increase coverage.

Demand for additional spectrum is high across Europe and the frequencies coming up for auction are particularly well suited to expand coverage in rural and remote areas because they can carry mobile broadband over long distances.

The sale, which will also include additional UMTS licences, is estimated to generate up to 5 billion euros ($7.1 billion) in proceeds, a welcome injection of cash for the stretched federal budget but well below the more than 50 billion the government received from an auction in 2000.

Reporting by Nicola Leske; Editing by Erica Billingham

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