High Court rejects challenges from Three and EE over Ofcom’s spectrum auction plans

22 Dec 2017

British telecoms regulator Ofcom has won a judicial review related to its planned sale of spectrum in the 2.3GHz and 3.4GHz bands. According to Telecoms.com, the High Court ruled in the watchdog’s favour after both Three UK and EE had launched legal challenges regarding the auction plans; notably, the former had argued that a proposed spectrum ownership cap had been set too low.

In his ruling summary regarding the case, The Honourable Mr Justice Green said: ‘In the light of my review of the evidence I am clear that the approach taken by Ofcom was comprehensive, coherent and logical … Ofcom’s findings are evidence-based and justified. To arrive at its Decision Ofcom engaged in a detailed predictive analysis of how the market would work in the future under a series of different assumptions and scenarios. It consulted upon its economic and econometric analysis and modelling. In the Decision it sought to strike a delicate balance between protecting competition and consumers, on the one hand, and setting restrictive caps which were not disproportionate to BT/EE. The balancing exercise was sound.’

In response to the development, EE confirmed it would not appeal the decision, but Three does plan to do so, with a spokesperson for the mobile network operator (MNO) cited as saying: ‘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 challenge the ruling in the Court of Appeal urgently.’

United Kingdom, BT Group (incl. Openreach), EE, Hutchison 3G UK (Three UK), Ofcom