Why is T-Mobile trying to stall 2.6GHz auction?

Here's an interesting one, reported a few weeks ago in the Grauniad but only picked up today by yours truly, while listening to Charles Jenne, Ofcom's policy director for spectrum, at the Mobile Broadband Congress in West London.T-Mobile has made a legal challenge against Ofcom's upcoming 2.

Here's an interesting one, reported a few weeks ago in the Grauniad but only picked up today by yours truly, while listening to Charles Jenne, Ofcom's policy director for spectrum, at the Mobile Broadband Congress in West London.

T-Mobile has made a legal challenge against Ofcom's upcoming 2.6GHz spectrum auction, which is scheduled for September. The challenge is essentially over the issue of refarming old 900MHz GSM spectrum for 3G services. T-Mobile is against this being allowed, because it doesn't own any - the beneficiaries would be Vodafone and O2. T-Mobile only has 1800MHz spectrum, and it is now trying to delay the 2.6GHz auction (spectrum that can also be used as a 3G expansion band) until the refarming issue is sorted out.

In other words, T-Mobile wants to know how much it needs 2.6GHz before it starts bidding on it.

However: the 2.6GHz spectrum could be used for three things - 3G expansion, LTE or mobile WiMax, the latter two being the hot tips for the future. WiMax, which could theoretically get a big block of spectrum out of the auction (the cap is 80MHz), currently has a first-mover advantage over LTE, which is the technology most favoured by big operators like T-Mobile. The longer it takes for 2.6GHz to get auctioned off, the more time LTE has to catch up with its rival. So a delay may be beneficial to T-Mobile in more ways than one.