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VIENNA, Nov 8 (Reuters) - A race to the bottom in Austrian mobile tariffs may be over following consolidation in the market, the chief executive of T-Mobile Austria told Reuters on Friday.
Andreas Bierwirth said the lowest tariffs in the market had been removed with the ending this Sunday of a 7.50 euros ($10.04) per month offer by rival H3G, and Christmas season subsidies for premium phones would be lower this year.
"I see something happening, and to that extent I am cautiously optimistic today that we may have passed a low point in Austria," he told Reuters in an interview.
T-Mobile Austria, the second-biggest of Austria's three mobile carriers, will likely suffer a further revenue decline this year but a turnaround may come next year thanks to a focus this year on high-value customers, he said.
Bierwirth said T-Mobile Austria planned a legal challenge to the country's recent auction of telecoms frequencies, the most expensive per head of population so far in Europe, which cost T-Mobile 654 million euros.
He said the auction, in which market leader Telekom Austria won half the frequencies, had failed to further competition, that the regulator had not consulted operators, and that frequencies had been sold before T-Mobile's rights to use them expired.
"It is already decided internally that we will go through with legal steps," he said, adding that the company would wait until after a hearing by the regulator of the operators' complaints on Monday before proceeding.
Partly as a result of the high auction cost, T-Mobile Austria would cut costs "to the limits of what our business model can sustainably and sensibly bear," he said. ($1 = 0.7472 euros) (Reporting by Georgina Prodhan and Angelika Gruber, Editing by Michael Shields)