The surprise in this story is that the offending government is the government of the United Kingdom, a country many in the world looked at when engaged in telecom reforms. Now that the slapping of arbitrary taxes and levies on telcos has become the fashion, perhaps the UK example will become the governing one again.
In 2015, regulator Ofcom was asked to increase spectrum fees, which trebled the annual licence fee of many operators and resulted in the industry having to cough up £200 million a year for licences.
UK operators sought a judicial review, stating Ofcom had wrongly calculated the amounts, for instance by not taking into account network running costs.
The Court of Appeal upheld the challenge based on European Commission laws on infrastructure investment.
As a result, the treasury may now have to return the extra fees paid by operators, which are calculated to be in the region of £200 million and £300 million, although the ruling could be appealed in the Supreme Court.