Carriers accuse government of jacking up 3G license profits

European mobile companies are accusing the European government of making "too much profit" from selling billions of euros worth of 3G licenses, a Dow Jones report said.

The report said the European carriers branded the government as "acting like private companies, not regulators."

The mobile operators, including some of the biggest in the EU, would seek legal aid to get billions in value-added tax rebates from the government, the report said.

The report said a final ruling on the case, which was likely to have precedent-setting importance for operators across Europe, would come at the end of the year.

A judge at the European Court of Justice suggested that the operators might have a case, the report said.

However, lawyers representing the governments maintained that granting telecom licenses was no different from granting driver's licenses, where they received fees in return, the report said.

The case started when the UK and Austrian governments rejected requests by a number of the operators for a refund, the report said.

The report said Hutchison Whampoa, Vodafone, Deutsche Telekom's T-Mobile and Mobilcom Austria, were demanding the tax rebates.