Home business Expert sees little chance of success for lawsuits against 5G procurement rules

Expert sees little chance of success for lawsuits against 5G procurement rules

With the auction of mobile 5G frequencies, complaints from network operators have little chance of success from an expert's point of view. "The Federal Network Agency has put its procurement rules and the court in balance – no arbitrariness can be recognized," said the telecommunications expert Torsten Gerpott from the University of Duisburg-Essen, the German press agency. Similar complaints from other companies at a frequency auction in 2015 also failed.

the Deutsche Telekom, Vodafone and Telefónica and other companies filed lawsuits with the Cologne administrative court. According to them, the procurement rules were unfair. Professor Gerpott, on the other hand, states that the regulator has reasonably used his discretionary power.

The tendering rules prescribe certain expansion requirements. Newcomers without their own network – in this case the company 1 & 1 Drillisch (United Internet) – but receive extensive exceptions. This in turn is a thorn in the eye of the three previous network operators. Moreover, they warn against selling their networks to competitors, as this would invalidate their own investments.

Although the procurement rules do not provide for an opening obligation – a so-called national roaming – but a so-called bargaining requirement: the companies must talk to each other. If a top dog refuses to cooperate with a competitor, the Federal Network Agency can act as an arbitrator in the dispute. This is already too much for the network operators.

With 5G – the abbreviation for the fifth mobile radio generation – the German industry must remain competitive. The mobile standard plays a central role in autonomous journeys, telemedicine and networked factories. For individuals, 5G is less important because the 4G / LTE predecessor standard is sufficient for most mobile applications.


There will also be no delay in the auction scheduled for the end of March, according to the professor. Although Telefónica and Vodafone have submitted applications for express legal protection at the Cologne administrative court, the court must now quickly decide whether their actions have suspensive effect. This in turn would slow down the auction considerably. The administrative court will most likely not recognize the "urgency", so there will be no suspensive effect, Gerpott said. Like the rest of the procedure, the oppositions of Telefónica and Vodafone would probably be negotiated fairly regularly. Ultimately, all complaints are not very promising, says the professor of Enterprise and Technology Planning.

If the network operators prevail and the tendering rules are reversed, the auction would be declared ineffective with retrospective effect. He believes, however, that this is unlikely given the balanced procurement rules, according to the telecommunications expert.

It would be the fourth major auction of mobile radio frequencies. In 2000 telecommunications companies paid the equivalent of more than 50 billion euros for UMTS blocks (2G), with retroactive effect this amount is far too high – the reason for this was the hype surrounding the future subject of mobile internet, the gold mining industry and therefore too positive from assessed economically. In 2010, mobile phone companies paid € 4.4 billion, compared to € 5.1 billion in 2015. And this time? Because of the relatively strict expansion and associated high investment restrictions will be less than before, said Gerpott – he expects three to four billion euros in revenue for the state.

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