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Government examines possible irregularities in UMTS auction

If an agreement between Deutsche Telekom and Tele Danmark did indeed take place, diAx/Sunrise risks having to give up its UMTS licence

(Keystone)

The Swiss government says it is taking seriously rumours of an illegal agreement between Deutsche Telekom and Tele Danmark in the auction of third generation, or UMTS, mobile phone licences in Switzerland.

The Federal Office for Communication has demanded an explanation from diAx/Sunrise, the telecommunications group which was formed under the aegis of the Danish operator.

Spokesman Roberto Rivola confirmed on Sunday that the office had asked diAx to respond "as fast as possible" to reports that Deutsche Telekom had illegally taken a stake in Tele Danmark before the auctions.

On November 10 last year the German telecommunications giant pulled out of the race three days before the planned UMTS auction. On the eve of the event, the Zurich-based operators, Sunrise and diAx announced they were to merge under the wing of Tele Danmark.

As a result of the changes, the authorities postponed the auctions by three weeks.

If an agreement between Deutsche Telekom and Tele Danmark did indeed take place, diAx/Sunrise risks having to give up its UMTS licence.

"Agreements are forbidden according to the rules regulating the auction in Switzerland," said Rivola.

He said the office had not yet ordered an investigation into the affair, but would do so if the allegations are confirmed.

Tele Danmark spent SFr3.53 billion to finance the merger of Sunrise and diAx to create the second largest telecoms operator in Switzerland.

swissinfo with agencies

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