Ofcom has confirmed it will hold a 5G mobile auction in April after a judge blocked a legal appeal by Three regarding the terms of the sale.
Both Three and BT lost their initial challenges in December last year, but Three decided to appeal to the High Court in a last ditch attempt to limit the amount of spectrum any one provider could buy.
Under Ofcom’s proposed terms, no provider would be allowed to control more than 37 per cent of the UK’s mobile spectrum by 2020. EE, which merged with BT last year and currently owns 42 per cent of the spectrum, called for the cap to be dropped.
Three, meanwhile, said that the rules needed to be strengthened, preventing any single provider from owning more than 30 per cent of the spectrum.
“The Court of Appeal has very firmly rejected Three’s application for permission to appeal on all grounds,” an Ofcom spokesman said in a statement.
“We welcome this decision, and will now press ahead with releasing these important airwaves. This new capacity will allow mobile companies to offer more reliable reception, and to prepare for future 5G services.”
A Three spokesperson said the company was disappointed by the decision: “First of all this has not caused any delay to the delivery of 5G services to UK consumers which are not expected to rollout until 2019/20, according to Ofcom.
“But more importantly, our appeal is about competition in the UK mobile market and spectrum distribution is the single biggest factor in maintaining a competitive market.”