British mobile network operator (MNO) Three UK has followed through with its previously announced plans and formally filed a challenge with the UK courts against regulator Ofcom’s proposed auction of spectrum in the 2.3GHz and 3.4GHz bands, the Financial Times reports. With the move beginning a judicial review that will last three months, a Three UK spokesperson was cited as saying: ‘We confirm that we have filed a judicial review before the UK courts in relation to the competition measures that will apply in the upcoming spectrum auction … It is absolutely vital that the regulator gets this auction right for the long term benefit of all consumers.’ With Three reportedly expecting a decision on the matter by early 2018, it has argued the legal challenge should not interfere with a commercial launch of 5G services in the UK.
Meanwhile, another British MNO – EE – has yet to file its own request for a judicial review of the matter, though the Financial Times notes it still has a number of weeks to do so. For its part, Vodafone UK has suggested that the legal challenges will ‘unnecessarily delay’ the spectrum sale process, and said: ‘This is not in the interest of consumers and will undermine the UK’s efforts to be a leading digital economy.’ In its response to the latest development, a spokesperson for regulator Ofcom said: ‘It is very regrettable that the auction will now be delayed by this litigation, which will harm consumers, businesses and ultimately the UK economy. It is now crucial that companies don’t drag their feet, so the case can be heard as soon as possible.’