O2 says UK 4G auction plans breach law

Michael Carroll
13 Jun 2011

UK cellco O2 claims Ofcom’s proposed 4G auction plans will breach European laws if minimum spectrum allocations are set.

The operator states the spectrum floors would allow rival operators 3UK and EverythingEverywhere to acquire licenses at heavily discounted prices, which it claims is tantamount to state aid – something that is barred under EC rules.

The move would cost taxpayers £1 billion (€1.1 billion) in missed revenues, the operator notes, citing Ofcom figures.

Ofcom proposed the minimum allocations to ensure carriers that do not currently hold spectrum under 1GHz get a fair deal in the 4G auction, which is scheduled to take place early next year and covers a total of 250MHz in the 800MHz and 2.6GHz bands.

However O2 claims the regulator’s premise is wrong, and that the 900MHz spectrum it and Vodafone currently hold is not “directly comparable” to the 800MHz spectrum covered in the 4G auction.

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