Purpose (limit 100 words) To investigate how the licensing of the 3.6 GHz (C-band) has progressed throughout Europe. Design/methodology/approach (limit 100 words) Original databases have been created by the authors covering every aspect of the C-band auctions in Europe, and these have been subjected to analysis to draw out the key themes. Findings (limit 100 words) Although there have been delays in licensing the C-band, the process is now largely complete and the first launches have taken place. However, there has been considerable diversity in the rules underpinning the licences and considerable differences in the amounts raised measured in $/MHz/pop. Research limitations/implications (limit 100 words) It is difficult to make comparisons across a substantial sample of disparate countries because of the need to compare on a like-for-like basis – an issue that is generally glossed over in the literature. This has been addressed in this paper but some issues inevitably remain unresolved. Practical implications (limit 100 words) The development of 5G is highly contingent on the use of the C-band not just in Europe but elsewhere in the world where less-developed countries can learn from the European experience. Originality/value (limit 100 words) While the subject matter has received attention elsewhere, this represents the most up-to-date version with the largest sample of European countries.