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Ofcom to delay mobile spectrum auction

Ofcom looks set to delay the start of its auction for another round of 4G spectrum, after threats of legal action from Telefonica and Hutchison, parent companies of O2 and Three, who want the regulator to wait until a decision is made about their plan to merge the two mobile companies.

The spectrum, formerly used by the Ministry of Defence, would provide 4G services for mobile companies.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has provisionally approved the proposed merger between BT and EE. But the European Commission has announced its decision to launch an in-depth investigation into the proposed merger between O2 and Three – and Ofcom has previously cast doubt on this merger winning regulatory approval.

In a statement on December 3, Ofcom said it had received letters from Telefonica and Hutchison stating their intention to bring legal action against the regulator over its decision to begin the auction before the outcome of the European Commission’s findings.

“After careful consideration, given these specific circumstances, we have decided for reasons of good public administration to delay commencing the auction process,” it said.

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