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Lawsuits Threaten German LTE Auction

Michelle Donegan
Wireless Bits
Michelle Donegan
11/25/2009

10:05 PM -- Germany's upcoming LTE auction scheduled for early 2010 could face even more delays, thanks to two separate lawsuits filed by E-Plus Mobilfunk GmbH and Telefónica O2 Germany GmbH & Co. OHG against the country's regulator, the Bundesnetzagentur (BNetzA) .

The auction, which will be the largest spectrum allocation in Germany ever, is already more than one year late. Now there are two legal challenges, as well as a legal action from the European Commission launched in October, which will complicate matters. (See Germany's Monster 4G Auction, Europe Faces 4G Spectrum Delays, and Europe Waits for 4G Spectrum.)

E-Plus's press release about the lawsuit can be found here, in German.

O2's beef with the regulator is summed up in this September statement. An O2 spokesman confirmed to Unstrung that it filed its lawsuit last week at an administrative court in Cologne, Germany.

Basically, E-Plus and O2 are not happy about the rules for divvying up spectrum below 1 GHz, namely the 800 MHz band (a.k.a. the "digital dividend"). There are only 30 MHz of this highly sought-after spectrum to be auctioned, and there are four operators in Germany. Somebody is inevitably going to draw the short straw. But the smaller operators feel that because of the way the auction is set up, the larger operators, T-Mobile Deutschland GmbH and Vodafone Germany , will end up with more spectrum below 1 GHz than they will, given that they already have considerable spectrum at 900 MHz with their GSM licenses.

So, they've taken it to German courts to decide.

— Michelle Donegan, European Editor, Unstrung

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