Following in the footsteps of rival Three UK, British mobile network operator (MNO) and BT subsidiary EE has officially launched its own legal challenge against regulator Ofcom’s proposed auction of spectrum in the 2.3GHz and 3.4GHz bands. According to The Register, EE is seeking a change in the proposed rules for the sale which would limit companies to holding more than 37% of usable spectrum by 2020. Between them, BT and EE hold 42% of the UK’s immediately usable frequencies, with Three UK holding 15%, while the nation’s other MNOs Vodafone UK and O2 UK hold 29% and 14%, respectively. While it is claimed that EE has accepted it will not participate in the auction for spectrum in the 2.3GHz band, which will be used for 4G services, it is said to be pressing for the removal of spectrum holding limits related to the 5G-suitable 3.4GHz band.
It is understood that the legal challenges lodged by both EE and Three will be heard concurrently with a view to minimising the anticipated delays to the spectrum auction, which had initially been envisaged to take place this year. Commenting on the matter, Ofcom repeated its statement made in the wake of Three’s legal appeal, saying: ‘It is very regrettable that the auction will now be delayed by this litigation, which will harm consumers, businesses and ultimately the UK economy. We hope this matter can be resolved promptly, so that we can release the spectrum as soon as possible.’