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Legal threat to 5G spectrum auction

Publish date: 25 March 2020
Issue Number: 1823
Diary: Legalbrief eLaw
Category: Telecoms

The threat of legal challenge could delay the '5G' spectrum auction due to take place in the UK over the next couple of months. That’s according to the regulator that will oversee the auction process. Ofcom published its finalised rules for how its auction, for spectrum in the 700 MHz and 3.6-3.8 GHz bands, will work two weeks ago, according to an report. It confirmed that those rules could be subject to legal challenge and that this could impact the time-frame for holding the auction. ‘We are aware that during the course of our consultation process, a number of stakeholders have indicated that they might consider seeking judicial review of our final decisions,’ Ofcom said in a statement. ‘In light of the fact that a significant part of this spectrum could be used now to provide services, we consider that any claim for judicial review should be brought promptly, with a request that the courts expedite the matter. We consider that promptness in this case means that any claim for judicial review should be brought within six weeks of the date of this statement,’ it said. Technology law expert Simon Colvin of Pinsent Masons, said the 5G auction was a major milestone for the UK in terms of the future of telecoms and data-related services. ‘It is not surprising that Ofcom perceives a risk of challenge given the competitive desire for spectrum for the next generation. It will be interesting to see how the process plays out, particularly given the more collaborative signs we have seen with the mobile network operators in the single rural network programme,’ he said.

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