Hutchison Whampoa was named yesterday as one of 12 bidders hoping to win a third generation mobile licence in one of Europe's largest telecommunications markets, Germany. Fresh from winning control of the British 3G licence with the widest bandwidth last week at a cost of GBP4.38 billion (about HK$53.06 billion), Hutchison will now be involved in the German auction, where bidding is expected to start in August. The five British 3G licences fetched US$34.99 billion but the larger German market is expected to attract total bids of US$50 billion. The new Universal Mobile Telecommunications System is set to revolutionise mobile telecoms, by enabling phones to process data much faster, opening up the Internet and multimedia applications. Hutchison will, however, face stiff competition from other telecoms companies who have also been named as bidders in the German auction. They include Germany's Mannesmann - now owned by Britain's Vodafone AirTouch - Deutsche Telekom, MCI WorldCom of the United States and France's Vivendi. Like the British Government, the Germans intend to use the proceeds of the auction to pay down national debt. Germany is offering four to six licences, and this month will unveil which of the 12 contenders have satisfied its bidding criteria. All bidders will need to be present at the auctions in Bonn, and will not be able to confer during each 40-minute bidding session, after which the German regulator will publish details of the leading bids for each of 12 frequency blocks. The minimum bid is 100 million deutschemark (about HK$363.18 million), and the first phase will end when there are no further bids. In the second phase, the companies will be able to bid for an additional five blocks of spectrum, one of which will have a specified frequency, but the others will be abstract, allowing bidders to increase capacity.