H3G to appeal against Austrian spectrum auction

Hutchison Whampoa’s Austrian unit H3G is to appeal against the result of the country’s spectrum auction and against the €2 billion combined total cost of the bids.

The Austrian auction was Europe’s most expensive per head of population for 4G, and regulation restricted rival parties from knowledge of each other’s bids, in order to minimise collusion.

Deutsche Telekom’s T-Mobile Austria is also planning a legal challenge, while the country’s largest operator, Telekom Austria, will decide next month on whether to appeal.

H3G failed to win any of the most valuable 800MHz spectrum and came off worst in the auction, which also resold frequencies already in use.

H3G and T-Mobile are appealing to the country’s highest constitution and administrative courts to rerun the auction, arguing that the bidding conditions set out were intended only to maximise profits and endangered competition.

There may also have been a risk that one operator could have been shut out completely, as each of the three parties were allowed to bid for 50% of the spectrum on sale, although regulators claimed they would not have allowed this to happen.

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