T-Mobile Challenges Ofcom

7:00 AM -- Ofcom 's 2.6GHz mobile broadband spectrum auction scheduled for September is under threat of delay as T-Mobile (UK) has taken the U.K. regulator to court over its decision to go ahead with this auction before it has finalized its policy on spectrum refarming.

The operator lodged proceedings to request a judicial review of Ofcom's decision at the High Court and at the Competition Appeal Tribunal, says a T-Mobile spokesman. (See Ofcom Lawsuit Looms.)

The legal challenge almost certainly means the auction will be delayed.

T-Mobile's beef with the regulator is that it can't accurately value the 2.6GHz spectrum until it knows just how much, if any, of the 900MHz 2G spectrum it will be allowed to use for 3G services -– so-called spectrum refarming. The operator doesn't want to bid for new spectrum until Ofcom has sorted out the spectrum refarming policy, but this is still in consultation. (See UK Operators Brace for Spectrum Struggle, Ofcom Denies Spectrum Bundling , and Down on the (Re)Farm.)

That's certainly plausible, but if you're inclined to entertain conspiracy theories, this one is good: Spectrum refarming is not the issue. T-Mobile and the other mobile operators are actually more worried about a new WiMax player coming into their market, so they're doing their best to delay the 2.6GHz auction to prevent a new entrant from getting their hands on the new spectrum. Is that what's really going on? Just how threatened are the mobile operators by a potential WiMax player?

— Michelle Donegan, European Editor, Unstrung

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