The government may have to give a £300m refund to mobile phone firms after the Court of Appeal upheld a legal challenge over annual licence fees (ALF).
The move follows a decision by telecoms regulator Ofcom, on government orders, to increase the licence fees that firms pay for using the airwaves.
The fee was tripled, sparking angry protests from mobile phone operators.
No legal powers
Now the Court of Appeal has upheld the claim by operators that the government has no legal power to order Ofcom to increase fees.
The legal challenge means the government now faces having to return between £200m and £300m in fees, sources told the Financial Times.
An EE spokesman told the FT: “We’re happy with the outcome as we’ve always supported the view that the trebling of spectrum fees was excessive and would harm network investment.”