A two-part auction of fourth-generation (4G) wireless spectrum in France will commence as scheduled on September 15 pursuant to the decision of a French court to reject an emergency petition, filed by telecom operator Iliad, that sought an injunction to halt the auction. Late last month, Iliad, a provider of broadband services to French customers under the “Free” brand name, petitioned the Conseil d’Etat, France’s highest administrative court, to issue an injunction against the start of the auction pending a court decision on Iliad’s claim that auction terms requiring full, upfront payments unfairly favor large, entrenched carriers such as France Telecom (FT) and Vivendi’s SFR. Iliad, which had lobbied government officials unsuccessfully to adopt an installment payment system, is expected to bid alongside FT, SFR, and Bouygues for an initial tranche of 4G frequencies that are slated to support smart phone and tablet computer services and a host of other wireless broadband offerings. A second tranche of 4G licenses will be offered for sale starting on November 15. Government officials anticipate that the pair of auctions will reap at least €2.5 billion (US$3.5 billion) in proceeds. Rejecting Iliad’s petition, the court ruled that the company had not proven that it would be irreparably harmed if the auction were to proceed as scheduled. In the United Kingdom, meanwhile, national telecom regulator Ofcom warned this week that auctions of 4G wireless broadband licenses scheduled for early next year could be delayed through the first half of 2012 or beyond. Although the spectrum to be sold is considered suitable for broadband services that would be delivered via long term evolution (LTE) technology, analysts say that a complex system of spectrum “floors” and “caps” adopted by the government will keep total auction receipts in the range of US$3.2 billion in contrast to the $39.9 billion that was raised during the U.K.’s auction of 3G frequencies in 2000. Citing various technical issues—such as the relocation of digital television licensees to alternative spectrum and potential interference between future 4G spectrum users and national air traffic control systems—that remain to be resolved, an Ofcom spokesman admitted, “it will not be possible for mobile operators to start rolling out 4G until . . . 2013 regardless of when the auction itself takes place.”