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EU court gets T-Mobile Austria telecom merger appeal

VIENNA (Reuters) - T-Mobile Austria claimed partial victory on Monday in its legal battle against the allocation of radio frequencies resulting from rival Hutchison Whampoa's takeover of Orange Austria.

The Deutsche Telekom unit said in a blog entry on its website that an administrative court in Vienna had referred the case to the European Court of Justice.

T-Mobile said this confirmed its view that it had suffered a decisive competitive disadvantage by the spectrum allocation, which it says gives its rivals a major head start in building next-generation networks.

The administrative court declined to comment.

The ability to build an LTE (long-term evolution) network with data speeds up to 10 times those now available will be a competitive advantage in Austria's telecoms market.

T-Mobile appealed in December to the administrative court against the decision of Austria's telecom control commission, the TKK, for the transfer of frequencies that will accompany the merger that closed in January.

The frequencies T-Mobile will end up with are not adjacent, unlike those of Hutchison and the biggest operator, Telekom Austria, which also bought a package of frequencies.

T-Mobile said the Vienna court had asked the European court to rule quickly on the matter. If not, the case could create uncertainty around a September auction of frequencies that operators need to build superfast mobile broadband networks in Austria.

Austria aims to raise at least 526 million euros ($690 million) at that sale.

($1 = 0.7624 euros)

(Reporting by Michael Shields and Alexandra Schwarz-Goerlich, editing by William Hardy)

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