Vodafone and O2 have reacted furiously to the news that Ofcom has granted Everything Everywhere the right to use its existing spectrum for 4G services.
The decision was granted on Tuesday, after several months of deliberation from the media regulator and much lobbying by Everything Everywhere, and means that from 11 September the firm can begin using its 1800MHz holdings for 4G.
This has prompted an outraged response from Vodafone, which said it was "shocked" by the decision and criticised the regulator for undoing all of its own work in trying to create a level playing field for the 4G auctions, which are set to take place in 2013.
"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," it said.
"The regulator has spent several years refusing to carry out a fair and open auction. Now its decision today has granted the two most vociferous complainants during that entire process a massive incentive to further delay it."
Meanwhile, O2 has also expressed frustration with the decision, citing similar concerns.
"We are hugely disappointed with today's announcement, which will mean the majority of consumers will be excluded from the first wave of digital services," it said.
"This decision undermines the competitive environment for 4G in the UK."
O2 and Vodafone have already announced a partnership around the rollout of 4G infrastructure to combat the advantage they believe Everything Everywhere has in the race to bring out 4G services.
Dan Worth is the news editor for V3 having first joined the site as a reporter in November 2009. He specialises in a raft of areas including fixed and mobile telecoms, data protection, social media and government IT. Before joining V3 Dan covered communications technology, data handling and resilience in the emergency services sector on the BAPCO Journal.