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Spanish bidders press for Swiss UMTS auction to go ahead



The Spanish telecommunications giant, Telefonica, has urged Switzerland's Federal Communications Office to go ahead with an auction of UMTS mobile phone licences, which was called off in November.

In a statement on Saturday, Telefonica expressed its displeasure at the indefinite postponement of November's sale of third generation licences. The company said it wanted the situation to be resolved swiftly.

On November 13, the Communications Office stopped the auction just hours before it was scheduled to take place as the number of bidders for the four licences had narrowed to only four.

The government had expected to make billions of francs in the auction, following the examples of Germany and Britain.

However, this assumption was based on at least five companies joining the bidding but after the Swiss mobile phone companies, diAx and Sunrise, announced their merger on the eve of the auction, only four were left.

Telefonica said the merger of diAx and Sunrise should not have come as a surprise. They said that the new scenario with only four bidders left in the fray should not have impeded the auction.

Telefonica refused to rule out legal action if the Communications Office changed the price of the licences.

Swisscom, Orange and diAx are also keeping their options for legal action open as they fear the government may increase the original minimum price of SFr50 per licence.

swissinfo with agencies

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