Belgian operator Telenet has lost an appeal against the results of the 5G spectrum auction last year. Regulator Bipt said the Council of State declared the lawsuit inadmissible, ending all opposition to the auction outcome. 

The lawsuit questioned two royal decrees from 2021 that set aside part of the spectrum on offer for a potential newcomer on the Belgian mobile market. In the end Citymesh/Digi acquired radio frequency rights to launch a new mobile network, and ICT services provider NRB also bought some of the reserved spectrum. 

Telenet claimed the reservation violated EU law, as the authorities did not first conduct a market analysis to show a lack of competition on the market and the necessity of the remedies. 

The Council of State said it was impossible to separate the conditions for newcomers from the other elements of the auction, such as the spectrum reserved for incumbents and coverage requirements. Doing so would upend the entire government policymaking authority. 

Bipt noted that an earlier report from the Council of State’s auditor general, published in November 2022, did consider the merits of the case and found the auction decisions did not violate EU law on regulating telecom markets. It found no need to establish a market failure, saying the decision to reserve spectrum for newcomers was supported enough by the desire to increase network competition.

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