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UK Regulator Ofcom Pushes Back Phone Spectrum Auction Plans

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LONDON (Dow Jones) U.K. communications regulator Ofcom Monday pushed back plans for an auction of telephone spectrum due to legal challenges by Telefonica's O2 and Deutsche Telekom's T Mobile.

"(In April) we indicated that we expected the application date for the award (of 2.6 gigahertz and 2010 megahertz spectrum) to be in July 2008," Ofcom said in a statement.

"Since then, T-Mobile and O2 have begun have begun legal challenges of our decision to press ahead with the award. In light of this, we have decided that it would be inappropriate to set the application date for July or August 2008."

The auction was originally due to take place in September, after applications in July.

The 2.6 GHz spectrum has become available as outside broadcasters using wireless cameras and other wireless video equipment have moved to other bands in the 2GHz range.

According to Ofcom this spectrum could be used for wireless broadband technology, mobile multimedia services, such as mobile television and mobile broadcasts.

T-Mobile and O2 are taking Ofcom to court as they claim that without a proper idea of what they can do with their existing spectrum, they can't calculate how much of the 2.6 gigahertz and 2010 megahertz expansion band they will need.

"Ofcom believes that it is in the citizen and consumer interest to hold the award as soon as possible. Therefore, we are seeking an expedited timeframe for the legal action to be heard," Ofcom's statement said.

The regulator said it will provide further information over the timing of the auction process as soon as it's in a position to do so.

-By Erica Herrero-Martinez, Dow Jones Newswires; 44 20 7842 9353; erica.herrero-martinez@dowjones.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

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Tags: deutsche telekom  o2  telefonica  ofcom  wireless broadband  auction  television  UK