Austrian telecom firms lose case against 4G auction result
VIENNA Dec 17 (Reuters) - Austria's three telecoms operators must pay 2 billion euros ($2.8 billion) on Tuesday for frequencies they won at auction after a court turned down a second request for an injunction.
The telecoms operators accuse the regulator of holding the auction under excessively secretive conditions, forcing them to bid higher than the frequencies were worth.
They say the fact they could each bid for up to 50 percent of the spectrum on offer, opening the prospect that one could have been cut out altogether, also pushed up the bids.
The auction was Europe's most expensive to date per head of population for fourth-generation frequencies.
The country's top administrative court denied T-Mobile Austria's request that the auction result be overturned, T-Mobile said, following a similar decision in the case of rival Hutchison last week.
The court could not immediately confirm the decision, saying it normally took a day or two to publish its rulings.
T-Mobile said it was informed of the decision in a short email on the day of the deadline for the companies to pay up unless they won their cases.
Telekom Austria, the country's biggest telecoms operator, has not appealed against the result of the auction or the process.
Both Hutchison and T-Mobile Austria have also lodged complaints with Austria's constitutional court, and T-Mobile said it expected a decision from there within days.
The administrative court had to consider whether paying the auction costs would cause immediate and irrecoverable economic damage to the operators, while the constitutional court will review the legality of the auction process. ($1 = 0.7271 euros) (Reporting by Georgina Prodhan; editing by Tom Pfeiffer)
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