The sell-off, which could raise as much as £4 billion (€4.8bn) for the Treasury, is scheduled for early 2013.
3, the newest and smallest mobile network in the UK with a 10 per cent market share, will use the courts to challenge the 4G auction rules that it thinks should do more to ensure its survival. It had been thought that 3 needed the spectrum auction to happen quickly because its network was running out of capacity. Its UK chief executive, David Dyson, will tell audiences at a conference in London this week that this is no longer the case. He will announce he has bought enough time to go to court with new plans to double the capacity of his network with a technology upgrade.
The rules will be finalised this July, and the deadline for consultation responses was last week. The three largest players, Vodafone, Everything Everywhere and O2, will compete on a level playing field for spectrum, but the rules as drafted ensure one lot of spectrum – not necessarily from the 800MHz band – will be reserved for a fourth operator.