UK antitrust regulator wins appeal over Motorola’s Airwave network probe

(Reuters) -Britain’s Competition Appeal Tribunal has upheld the antitrust watchdog’s findings that U.S.-based walkie-talkie maker Motorola Solutions was overcharging UK emergency services for its radio network Airwave, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said on Friday.

The tribunal had dismissed Motorola’s appeal, which claimed the antitrust regulator had erred in assessing the Airwave Network’s profitability and its competition in the relevant market.

Motorola bought Airwave, the private mobile radio communications network the police, fire, ambulance and other emergency services use to communicate securely, in 2016.

Emergency services have no choice but to rely on Airwave as a new Emergency Services Network is not expected to be ready for a switchover until at least 2026, and more likely 2029.

“The CMA’s order will now ensure that the UK’s emergency services pay a fair price, and this will reduce the current price by almost 200 million pounds ($254.52 million) per year,” the regulator said in a statement.

The CMA had in July imposed a cap that brought the price down “to a level that would be expected in a well-functioning and competitive market”, the regulator said.

Motorola said it strongly disagreed with the decision and that it would have a “chilling effect” on long-term investments in the UK.

“Motorola Solutions remains committed to vigorously protecting its contractual position and we are considering all options, including our intent to appeal the decision to the Court of Appeal,” a company spokesperson said in a statement.

($1 = 0.7858 pounds)

(Reporting by Radhika Anilkumar in Bengaluru; additional reporting by Gokul Pisharody; Editing by Arun Koyyur and Pooja Desai)