Ofcom has delayed the auction for the 2.6GHz wireless spectrum in a move which could delay the widespread availability of WiMax services in the UK.
Ofcom said legal action by O2 and T-Mobile has forced it to push back the application date for the auction, which was originally expected to be in July.
O2 and T-Mobile's complaint is that the auction would be unfair as it stands, with operators bidding blindly, because another spectrum issue has not been resolved. Ofcom is planning to 're-farm' some spectrum, around 900MHz, used by O2 and Vodafone's GSM networks, taking it back from the operators and re-selling it. The operators say they won't know how much 2.6GHz spectrum to bid for till the re-farming is resolved.
"T-Mobile continues to argue that operators need certainty on liberalisation before the 2.6GHz award in order to value this spectrum with any degree of accuracy," said T-Mobile's response to the 2.6GHz consultation earlier this year.
However, others have pointed out that WiMax operators are waiting for the 2.6GHz spectrum to offer services in the UK, and any delay to it would keep it out of their hands until the operators are ready to unleash their successor to 3G, LTE.
Ofcom says it wants to get the auction started, saying it will benefit UK citizens and consumers: "we are seeking an expedited timeframe for the legal action to be heard," it said.