UK operators set for huge licence fee refund - Mobile World Live

UK operators set for huge licence fee refund

20 MAY 2019

Vodafone UK won a legal case contesting a historical hike in spectrum fees against regulator Ofcom, which paves the way for the country’s mobile operators to claw back up to £220 million.

In its ruling, reported by Financial Times, the High Court upheld Vodafone’s complaint the imposition of a huge increase in licence fees in 2015 had not followed proper processes. The regulator was given the right to appeal the decision.

The legal action, launched in September 2018, related to a government mandated increase in spectrum prices by Ofcom which trebled annual licence fees.

An operator-led challenge on the way the increases were imposed followed and, in 2017, the UK Court of Appeal agreed with complaints the rise contradicted European Commission laws on infrastructure investment.

In a statement, an Ofcom representative said: “This case has been decided on what is a technical and important point of law, and the judge has recognised this by granting Ofcom permission to appeal further to the Court of Appeal.”

“The mobile operators did not challenge the amount they pay for this valuable spectrum, but the judgement means they get a windfall of more than £220 million.”

In a statement, a Vodafone representative said: “We are delighted with the court’s ruling. Ofcom has previously acknowledged that it failed to follow proper process in raising the licence fees and the court has now confirmed that the over payments should be returned.”

“The repayment of these fees will enable us to invest in the country’s digital infrastructure”.

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Chris Donkin

Chris joined the Mobile World Live team in November 2016 having previously worked at a number of UK media outlets including Trinity Mirror, The Press Association and UK telecoms publication Mobile News. After spending 10 years in journalism, he moved...

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