Austrian court denies telecom firms a delay on 4G license payments

Reuters News
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Posted: Dec 23, 2013 7:01 AM
Austrian court denies telecom firms a delay on 4G license payments

VIENNA (Reuters) - Austria's Constitutional Court has declined to issue an injunction that would let mobile telecoms operators delay paying 2 billion euros ($2.73 billion) for 4G radio frequencies they won at auction, T-Mobile Austria said on Monday.

It was the third unsuccessful attempt to hold up the payments after the country's top administrative court last week turned down a similar request.

But the Deutsche Telekom unit said failure to issue an injunction had no bearing on the substance of its appeal against the way the auction was held, a case that it said was likely to be decided by both high courts in 2014.

"T-Mobile has meanwhile paid the license fee of around 654 million euros by the December 17 deadline," it said.

The telecoms operators accuse the regulator of holding the auction under excessively secretive conditions, forcing them to bid higher than the frequencies were worth.

They say the fact they could each bid for up to 50 percent of the spectrum on offer, opening the prospect that one could have been cut out altogether, also pushed up the bids.

The auction was Europe's most expensive to date per head of population for fourth-generation frequencies.

The top administrative court had denied T-Mobile Austria's request that the auction result be overturned, following a similar decision this month in the case of rival Hutchison.

Telekom Austria, the country's biggest telecoms operator, has not appealed against the result of the auction or the process.

(Reporting by Michael Shields; Editing by Greg Mahlich)