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Everything gets green light for 4G
Orange and T-Mobile owner Everything Everywhere can repurpose some existing spectrum for 4G services
Superfast mobile broadband is to be launched in the UK later this year after T-Mobile and Orange got the green light to run 4G services.
Everything Everywhere, which owns the brands in the UK, has gained a head-start on rivals because regulator Ofcom has ruled the firm can use some of its existing spectrum prior to an industry-wide auction of 4G airwaves in 2013.
Vodafone attacked the decision but Ofcom said allowing Everything's request to vary its existing licence for 4G was in the best interests of consumers.
Everything said: "Consumers will soon be able to benefit from the much greater mobile speeds that 4G will deliver. 4G will drive investment, employment and innovation and we look forward to making it available later this year, delivering superfast mobile broadband to the UK."
The company will be allowed to offer 4G from September 11, but has not specified when it will start the service. It has been rewarded for installing the necessary equipment for 4G since the start of the year, even though the bidding phase for the auction was not due to start until 2013.
Vodafone said: "We are frankly shocked that Ofcom has reached this decision.
"The regulator has shown a careless disregard for the best interests of consumers, businesses and the wider economy through its refusal to properly regard the competitive distortion created by allowing one operator to run services before the ground has been laid for a fully competitive 4G market."
With Everything in talks to sell some of its spectrum to rival operator 3, Vodafone said the balance of the 4G auction will "fundamentally change".
Thomas Wehmeier, principal analyst at Informa Telecoms & Media, said Ofcom's decision was a "major milestone" for the UK mobile market and a vindication of Everything's decision to invest in readying the ground for 4G.
Everything later said it planned to launch a new brand to operate alongside Orange and T-Mobile before the end of this year.