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O2 slams Three’s ‘thoughtless’ court case over 5G spectrum

Elliot Mulley-Goodbarne
October 9, 2017

The comments come after Ofcom head Sharon White voiced her frustration on a letter towards EE and Three

O2 has criticised Three for sparking a judicial process in the row over 5G spectrum, labelling the move as thoughtless.

The comments come after Ofcom head Sharon White also expressed her frustration towards EE and Three pursuing legal action in a letter to the Financial Times.

White said: “The courts have agreed to fast track litigation, but the benefits for mobile users will inevitably be delayed. We planned to complete the auction this year.

“Now we will be in court in December. We believe that auctioning some 5G airwaves early would allow companies to start the vital groundwork to make 5G a reality as soon as possible.”

A spokesman from O2 described the situation as “regrettable” adding: “Legal action and the impending judicial review triggered by Three will delay the auction and gives no thought to the impact and harm on the UK customers, businesses and the economy.”

Vodafone joined O2 and White in expressing frustrations at the impending legal proceeding from Three and EE, with all three agreeing that delays can only be detrimental to the UK.

Vodafone said that the move “undermines” efforts to be a leading digital economy calling legal challenges unnecessary and “not in the interest of consumers.”

Three defended the decision to challenge the “vital” 5G auction the process adding: “According to Ofcom, 5G service are not set to rollout in the UK until 2020, so our legal action will have no impact on the rollout.”

EE’s defensive move
White also stated, despite its claims, EE’s legal challenge is not purely a defensive move.

She added: “BT/EE said its hand was forced by Three’s challenge and its own appeal was therefore just a defensive move to cover Three’s case. But BT/EE’s appeal in fact goes much further and seeks to challenge the auction on a whole new set of grounds.”

White described the delays as “inevitable” and expressed her sympathy that companies must protect her interests, but not at the expense of the company.

“We appreciate that companies must look after their own positions. But commercial interests must not derail a golden opportunity for the UK to take the lead in 5G and be among the world’s best connected nations.”

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