A PYMNTS Company

UK: Ofcom retreats from 4G spectrum auction after legal threat

 |  December 6, 2015

Ofcom has halted its 4G spectrum auction, following threats of legal action from Telefónica UK and Hutchison.

The two mobile operators are currently being probed by antitrust officials in Brussels, who are considering whether Telefónica UK’s planned sell-off of O2 to Three owner Hutchison “would harm competition”.

The firms’ willy-waving tactics have successfully mothballed Ofcom’s plans to offload a chunk of 4G spectrum before the European Commission has concluded its investigation into the proposed merger between O2 and Three.

However, that decision isn’t expected until next Spring at the earliest.

Ofcom said Telefónica UK and Hutchison had recently sent missives threatening to bring judicial review proceedings against the communications regulator’s plans to proceed with the 4G spectrum auction.

In late October, Ofcom confirmed plans to sell-off 190MHz of high capacity spectrum – which had been freed up by the Ministry of Defence – with reserve prices set at a total of £70m.

Two bands were made available to apparently help meet demand for mobile broadband services, according to Ofcom. It had been hoping to begin the auction in early 2016.

Full content: Mobile Today

Want more news? Subscribe to CPI’s free daily newsletter for more headlines and updates on antitrust developments around the world.