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Regulatory authority’s legal opinion on multiband auction for frequency allocation confirmed by VwGH ruling

The Austrian Administrative Court (VwGH) handed down a ruling on 4 December 2014 confirming the ‘multiband auction’ as a frequency allocation procedure. The auction had been carried out in late 2013 by the Telekom-Control-Kommission (TKK) with the support of the Austrian Regulatory Authority for Broadcasting and Telecommunications (RTR). The court followed the regulatory authorities’ legal opinion on all points that had come under criticism. “This supreme court decision is especially significant for our regulatory activities as it not only removes all doubt surrounding the multiband auction held in 2013 but also guarantees legal certainty in future frequency allocation procedures”, said Johannes Gungl, CEO of RTR’s Telecommunications and Postal Services Division, commenting on the VwGH ruling. “The ruling gives unequivocal answers to a number of questions often put to us by telecom operators in the past,” Gungl added.

Rapid broadband expansion can proceed

“For the Austrian economy and businesses as well as for Austrian consumers the ruling means an end to any obstacles to rapid expansion of broadband service by telecom operators. Coverage requirements have been tied to the acquisition of frequencies in the 800, 900 and 1800 MHz bands; this will ensure the supply of broadband services even to regions of Austria still experiencing poor coverage. As soon as May 2015 we will review compliance with the related coverage requirements,” Gungl elaborated.

Background information

The TKK completed its frequency allocation procedure on 19 November 2013 with the allocation of frequencies in the 800, 900 and 1800 MHz band ranges. Official decisions were subsequently issued to A1 Telekom, T-Mobile and Hutchison, the operators participating in the auction. T-Mobile and Hutchison responded by filing complaints with the Constitutional Court (VfGH) and with the Administrative Court (VwGH). In March 2014 the VfGH announced its refusal to handle the complaint. In summer 2014 Hutchison withdrew the complaint filed with the VwGH.

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