EE and Three have lost their respective legal challenges to an auction of the UK’s usable mobile spectrum, marking a victory for Ofcom.
The auction was designed to pave the way for the roll-out of 5G mobile connections in the UK, but was postponed following the challenges.
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, submitted a legal challenge calling 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.
EE said it was disappointed with the result but that it would drop the complaint. Three said it would appeal.
“We’re disappointed that Three is seeking permission to appeal to the Court of Appeal,” an Ofcom spokesperson told the BBC.
“We believe the High Court judgement is clear and Three’s actions may further delay the auction, which is not in the interests of the UK.”
Some experts have cast doubt upon Ofcom’s claim that an appeal by Three would push back the roll-out of 5G in the UK. The technology is not expected to be ready until 2021.