Mar 22, 2017

Three threatens legal challenge to UK 5G auction

The chief executive of Three UK has threatened to launch a legal challenge to block the sale of airwaves needed for 5G and improved 4G services, unless Ofcom, the telecoms regulator, ensures that smaller operators are not edged out of the auction. The original launch of 4G services in Britain was delayed by legal challenges from operators unhappy with the terms of the auction of airwaves needed to carry the faster phone signals. The auction of a fresh batch of spectrum needed for improved 4G services and the launch of 5G services in the future has already been delayed by more than a year as a result of the aborted takeover of O2 by Three, and further delays could mean that Britain is left behind in the race to 5G. Dave Dyson, chief executive of Three UK, said the company would have "No option" but to mount a legal challenge to the auction process, unless Ofcom drastically altered its terms. Mr Dyson argued that the terms of the auction, as proposed by Ofcom, would enable BT to buy all the higher frequency spectrum needed for 5G services and for Vodafone to hurt both his company and O2 by bidding strategically for all the "Usable spectrum". There are also two future spectrum sales beyond 2020, where Three could boost its spectrum assets.

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