DIGI’s 5G auction appeal thrown out by apex court

8 Feb 2021

The Curia (Supreme Court) of Hungary has rejected an appeal by fixed and mobile network operator DIGI, deciding that it was legal for the National Media & Infocommunications Authority (Nemzeti Media- es Hirkozlesi Hatosag – NMHH) to exclude DIGI from the procedure for selling 5G mobile frequencies. The apex court agreed with a first-instance ruling from the Metropolitan Court in November 2020 dismissing a legal action from DIGI, which had opposed the NMHH’s decision to exclude it from the country’s 5G frequency licence auction completed in March 2020 (resulting in all three of DIGI’s main mobile rivals receiving 15-year 700MHz/3500MHz licences).

There is no further appeal permitted against the Curia’s decision, issued on 4 February.

The final verdict noted that DIGI (Hungary) did not apply directly for the frequency auction because of conditions which would exclude it from participating, and therefore applied via its parent company – Netherlands-registered, Romanian-listed Digi Communications – a move which the Curia called ‘deceptive’ and ‘against the purity’ of the auction procedure. One condition for participation was that a bidding company must have no regulatory infringements against its name in the 24 months prior to the start of the auction.