3 UK loses last appeal against 5G spectrum rules

Wednesday 14 February 2018 | 12:03 CET | News
The UK Court of Appeals has rejected 3 UK’s attempt to block the upcoming 5G spectrum auction, the Telegraph reported. The operator lost the court case in December after a ruling from the High Court and had lodged an appeal. 3 UK wanted the regulator to impose a 30 percent spectrum cap in order to stop EE (BT) from participating. Ofcom welcomed the decision and said it now press ahead with releasing the airwaves, important for the launch of 5G services. 

Ofcom will sell airwaves in two frequency bands. One will be immediately usable by operators to improve 4G coverage and capacity. Most of the spectrum however will be used for 5G, set for a 2020 introduction. 

As the smallest of the UK's four mobile operators, 3 UK claimed that without tougher rules it could be squeezed out by BT, which already has the largest share of the airwaves on 45pc. Ofcom set the post-auction cap at 37 percent but Three claimed it had made errors and should have been more strict. Ofcom said EE (BT) should be allowed to bid because the extra spectrum was necessary for MNOs to start 5G services. 

O2 UK, which has a smaller share of spectrum than 3 UK, said the auction should start as soon as possible. Its weak position has been viewed by investors as an obstacle to the stock market debut sought by its Spanish owner Telefonica.

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