Vodafone and O2 are threatening legal action to prevent the
Government going ahead with its auction of digital spectrum under
its Digital Britain programme.
A report in the Financial Times says both operators are opposed
to the Government's finalised plans for the auction which
were published in a Digital Britain paper last week and are
threatening to seek a judicial review.
The Government wants Parliament to green light its plans by the
end of the month but the challenge from the two operators could
see further delays to the launch of 4G services in the UK.
The auction is part of the Digital Britain initiative, and is
based on recommendations made in a report last year by Kip Meek,
a former senior official at Ofcom, the telecoms regulator.
In a statement O2 said: ‘We are reviewing all options
but we believe a fair allocation of spectrum is vital for future competition in
the market and therefore in the interests of consumers.’
Vodafone said: 'Fair
allocation of spectrum is vital for our customers
and for competition in the UK's mobile industry. There
needs to be an urgent re-examination of what can be done to amend the current
proposals if the Digital Britain initiative is to remain credible. We are currently reviewing all options.'
The merger of T-Mobile and Orange saw Meek's proposals modified.
Both operators agreed to give up a combined 25% of their 1800 MHz
bandwidth spectrum after competition issues surrounding the
merger were raised by the Office of Fair Trading and other UK
consumer bodies. Following the agreement on spectrum trade-off,
The EU Commission gave the merger the green light earlier this