Sferia loses long-running legal case over 850MHz spectrum

5 Mar 2019

Polish telco Sferia, which is part of the Cyfrowy Polsat group, has lost a legal battle concerning its previous rights to 850MHz spectrum. The firm was allocated 2×6MHz of frequencies in the 850MHz band in 2003, but this was taken back by the government in 2013 ahead of the re-allocation of 800MHz spectrum. As compensation, Sferia was issued with a licence providing it with 2×5MHz in the 800MHz band, valid for three years. This spectrum allowed its majority shareholder Aero2 and indirect owner Polkomtel to launch 800MHz LTE-based services in 2015, well ahead of their rivals who had to wait until early 2016 to receive their own frequencies in the same band following the government’s 4G auction the previous year.

While Sferia reluctantly agreed to the spectrum swap following some legal squabbling, it later launched a USD475 million lawsuit claiming that it had suffered losses equivalent to this amount because the transfer was badly handled by the government. Wirtualnemedia now reports that the International Court of Arbitration in Paris has found in favour of the Polish government, represented by the Ministry of Digitisation.

With Sferia’s rights to 800MHz spectrum now having expired, and the firm having failed to reach an agreement with the government over renewing the licence and paying in instalments, Cyfrowy Polsat’s mobile units Polkomtel and Aero2 are instead utilising their own 900MHz frequencies to offer 4G services rather than relying on the 800MHz spectrum of their sister company.

Poland, Sferia