The four main mobile operators in the UK stood to recover part of their outlay on spectrum licences, after a court upheld a previous ruling that regulator Ofcom had charged too much following a government-mandated adjustment.
News outlet The Register reported Ofcom lost an appeal of a previous High Court ruling which backed operator complaints regarding the increase in spectrum charges implemented in 2015, which trebled annual licence fees.
The latest ruling will involve a partial refund of around £218 million, with EE in line to recoup £82 million; Three UK £26 million; and Vodafone UK and O2 UK £54 million each, it reported.
In a statement, chancellor of the High Court Geoffrey Vos said the issue facing the court in Ofcom’s appeal was “beguilingly simple”, with the original decision having established a refund was due. The only question, then “is what part of the annual licence fees can the MNOs recover as a matter of law”?
The sum the regulator was ordered to repay exceeds its total income of £196 million in 2019.
In 2010, Ofcom was ordered to revise fees for spectrum in the 900MHz and 1800MHz bands to reflect full market value. After that the regulator came up with a significant increase in pricing, which led to the lengthy legal dispute.Subscribe to our daily newsletter Back