O2 claims 4G auction is illegal

UK mobile network O2 has strongly criticised Ofcom’s plan for a 4G/LTE spectrum auction, claiming that it is nothing more than “state aid” and illegal.

O2 said that it does not support all the process that will allow small providers to snap up spectrum at much lower prices than it might have to pay. This will hurt O2 as well as UK taxpayers. “We believe that the proposed spectrum floors are a state aid and are therefore illegal under EU law. The spectrum floors would distort the auction process, allowing all bidders, except Vodafone and O2, to potentially acquire spectrum at discounted prices. Ofcom’s own figures suggest this effect could cost taxpayers £1 billion.”

The proposed floors relate to an argument that both O2 and Vodafone have enough sub-1GHz spectrum already, thanks to what O2 calls a “mistaken belief that 800 MHz and 900 MHz are directly comparable spectrums”. “They are not”, it added.