High court rejects Three and EE spectrum appeals


Three may look to appeal according to reports which frustrates O2

EE and Three have seen legal bids to force Ofcom to change its rules on the spectrum auction rejected.

According to reports Three may look to appeal the high court’s decision, a potential move that frustrates O2.

An O2 spokesperson said: “Three have had their day in the High Court and lost so we are frustrated by reports that they may seek to appeal the judgement. This is directly contrary to Three’s statement earlier this year that the litigation would only delay the spectrum auction by three months. Further delays are not in the interests of consumers, businesses and UK plc.”

EE will not seek to challenge the decision. An EE spokesman said: “While we don’t believe that spectrum caps in this auction are in the best interests of consumers, we’re pleased that the court has reached a decision so quickly and are now looking ahead to investing in the best mobile experience across the UK.”

Ofcom laid down a 37 per cent cap on how much spectrum an operator can purchase in July. A move Three CEO Dave Dyson labelled as “a kick in the teeth” as the operator wanted a 30 per cent cap.

In response to Three’s legal challenge EE lodged an appeal to remove the 37 per cent cap on 3.4GHz spectrum, which is touted as the foundation to 5G.

Currently BT/EE holds 42 per cent spectrum, Vodafone 29 per cent, Three 15 per cent and O2 14 per cent.


A Three spokesperson said: “We are disappointed by the initial ruling of the court, as a fairer distribution of spectrum is vital for UK consumers and the digital economy.

“The team at Three is committed to providing the best possible offering for our customers and we are seeking permission to appeal. Ofcom does not expect 5G to rollout in the UK until 2019/20 at the earliest, so this will have no impact on the delivery of this new technology.”

An Ofcom spokesman said the regulator welcomed the High Court’s judgment. “Our priority has always been to release these airwaves as soon as possible so customers can get more reliable mobile phone reception. We’ll now proceed with the auction as quickly as possible.”

“We believe the High Court judgment is clear and Three’s actions may further delay the auction, which is not in the interests of the UK. We are opposing its application and have asked the court to fast-track this process.”