The European Court of Justice (ECJ) has decided that T-Mobile Austria should get a say in how frequencies are redistributed following a merger between rivals, Reuters has reported, more than 18 months after T-Mobile’s complaint was referred to the ECJ back in May 2013.
When Hutchison Whampoa’s local unit 3 took over Orange Austria in 2012, local regulators said T-Mobile did not have to be included in a sharing out of spectrum, which meant that 3 could keep some of the frequencies while selling some to Telekom Austria.
T-Mobile said it had suffered as a result of the way spectrum was allocated, which led to its rivals gaining a significant head start on rolling out LTE.
It also said it would have to invest €90 million and rack up significant operating costs if its standard 3G frequencies are to cope with rising data demand.
T-Mobile had lodged an appeal against the Austrian telecom regulator, the TKK, for the transfer of the frequencies due to take place when the merger of 3 and Orange was completed in January 2013.
The Austrian administrative court that had asked the ECJ for help will look into the matter again and has said it will follow the ECJ’s decision.
Following the new ruling, T-Mobile Austria Chief Executive Andreas Bierwirth said in a statement: “Our goal was and is for UMTS frequencies in the 2100 megahertz range to be divided equally and not to have two market participants favoured. Based on this decision, we will try to reach a reasonable solution with everyone involved in this matter,” he added.
However, Telekom Austria is of the opinion that just because T-Mobile can be a part of the process “does not mean it has the right to buy frequencies,” according to a spokesman.
3 has also said TKK will probably not follow the ECJ’s decision even if the local court do.