Judge deals setback to pounds 2bn licence auction

THE GOVERNMENT'S pounds 2bn auction of the next generation of mobile telephone licences suffered a major setback yesterday after a High Court judge ruled that it has acted illegally.

Mr Justice Moses upheld the claim brought by the UK mobile operator One2One, that established telephone companies bidding in the auction should not have a mandatory obligation to allow new entrants to roam on their network.

In a statement commenting on the victory, One2One said: "We welcome this judgment and believe all other telecommunications operators will too. If operators are to invest millions of pounds into the UK economy, they need to know that ministers and the regulator will follow the rules laid down by policy."

One2One argued that mobile operators should have the option to have licence modifications referred to the Competition Commission.

It said the Government's decision to make acceptance of a national roaming licence modification a pre-condition for bidding in the auction denied operators that right. Rival company Orange was declared as an interested party in the action.

A Department of Trade and Industry spokesman said: "The Government is determined not to let the benefits of third generation mobile licences be lost to consumers. We note that the judge has recognised the ability to roam onto existing networks will be an important means of ensuring that a new entrant can take part in the auction."

He said the Government would continue to help provide a level playing field for new entrants and was discussing its next move with potential new bidders.

The Government unveiled its plans to issue a third generation of mobile licences in its 1997 manifesto. The sale of five licences was originally scheduled for last spring but has already been set back by delays in drawing up documentation.

The Government will be seeking a swift resolution to the issues raised by One2One if the UK is to avoid falling behing its European competitors. Finland, a world leader in mobile telecommunications, has already issued its third generation licences.

The DTI spokesman said: "The UK is committed to retaining its world leading position at the cutting edge of telecommunications market development."

How long the auction will be delayed will depend on the course of action the Government decides to take. But analysts estimate that the sale could take place up to a year behind schedule.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Sport
wimbledonScot will face Ivo Karlovic next
Sport
football
News
Hillary Clinton comments on viral Humans of New York photo of gay teenager
Arts and Entertainment
The gang rape scene in the Royal Opera’s production of Gioachino Rossini’s Guillaume Tell has caused huge controversy
music
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Sales Assistant / Buyer

£15000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company offers a range of ...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Advisor

£15000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Advisors are r...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £45K: SThree: SThree were established in 1986....

Recruitment Genius: Compliance Manager

£40000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Compliance Manager is require...

Day In a Page

Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
10 best statement lightbulbs

10 best statement lightbulbs

Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

Dustin Brown

Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test