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The road to 5G is clear after Three fails with Ofcom spectrum appeal

Ofcom can now crack on with the first spectrum auction with 5G ramifications after Three’s final attempt to change the bidding rules was thrown out of court.

The network had argued the cap on 2.3GHz and 3.4GHz spectrum purchases was too high, claiming it would allow the biggest players like BT/EE to obtain too much control.

The proposed cap enables individual networks to acquire a maximum of 37% of the available spectrum, but Three wanted it reduced to just 30%.

Now the Court of Appeals has dismissed Three’s case, the auction will now take place in April after a delay of more than six months.

The bands available in the forthcoming auction will improve the existing 4G LTE infrastructure, while the 5G-friendly 3.4GHz band will help the networks prepare for the 5G rollout in 2019/2020.

Related: 5G phones

In a statement Ofcom said (via The Inquirer): “The Court of Appeal has very firmly rejected Three’s application for permission to appeal on all grounds.

“We welcome this decision, and will now press ahead with releasing these important airwaves. This new capacity will allow mobile companies to offer more reliable reception, and to prepare for future 5G services.”

Harming competition?

Three expressed disappointment over the verdict and rejected claims its actions were delaying the rollout of 5G in the UK.

It wrote: “First of all this has not caused any delay to the delivery of 5G services to UK consumers which are not expected to rollout until 2019/20, according to Ofcom. But more importantly, our appeal is about competition in the UK mobile market and spectrum distribution is the single biggest factor in maintaining a competitive market.

“We still believe that a 37 per cent cap is too high if the policy objective is to have a competitive four-player market and we would like to see it set at a lower level in the future.”

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