Telecoms regulator Ofcom has authorized Everything Everywhere - owner of the Orange and T-Mobile networks - to use its existing bandwidth to launch 4G mobile services.
The move means that the much faster download speeds enabled by 4G, could launch in the UK significantly earlier than previously expected.
Ofcom said the move would deliver "significant benefits" to consumers that outweigh any competition concerns, but Vodafone and O2 made their surprise and disappointment at the decision clear.
Ofcom plans to auction 4G bandwidth to other providers next year, but Everything Everywhere will be allowed to offer 4G services from 11 September.
As the regulator pointed out, the timing will be a commercial decision to rollout, using existing bandwidth, for the company itself. Ofcom said delaying the mobile operator from launching 4G would be "to the detriment of consumers".
Everything Everywhere itself said the regulator's decision was "great news for the UK".
"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 told the BBC.
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