Market Intelligence – Legal disputes over spectrum hang a cloud over O2 IPO

Uncertainty over its ability to acquire more airwaves is putting pressure on IPO plans for Telefónica SA’s O2. But its peers may be facing similar headwinds.

In July, Britain’s regulatory watchdog Ofcom announced that a U.K. spectrum auction due to take place later this year would prevent operators from owning more than 37% of the overall share of mobile spectrum available for civil use by 2020. Ofcom is auctioning 40 MHz of spectrum in the 2.3 GHz band and 150 MHz of spectrum in the 3.4 GHz band to support future 5G rollout.

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O2 has consistently achieved high scores in network quality, echoed Bengt Nordström, CEO of telecom consultancy Northstream. In Ofcom’s latest service comparison report, O2 recorded the least number of subscriber complaints and ranked the highest in customer satisfaction relative to EE, Three and Vodafone.

“Any negative impact would have been seen already,” Nordström said.

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