O2 is reportedly preparing legal action against the decision to allow Everything Everywhere to launch a 4G service in the UK this year.
The operator's owner, Telefónica, is believed to have written to the regulator Ofcom threatening to challenge last week's decision to allow Everything Everywhere to refarm its 1800MHz spectrum for next generation services. O2, Vodafone and Three all objected to the decision when it was announced on 21 August.
The Guardian reported the letter was also copied to culture secretary Jeremy Hunt and said it intended to appeal the decision at the Competition Appeals Tribunal (CAT). The operator could claim interim relief as part of the appeals process, meaning Everything Everywhere may be blocked from launching a service until a decision is reached. The report also claimed O2 issued Everything Everywhere with an ultimatum until Tuesday this week (28 August) for it not to launch a 4G service in 2012. O2 refused to comment on the report.
If a legal challenge goes ahead, it could lead to the 4G auction, scheduled to take place early next year, being delayed. Last week, Everything Everywhere CEO Olaf Swantee warned its rivals against launching legal challenges to Ofcom's 1800MHz refarming decision. He said: 'I will commit here and now to support the auction process, even though there are aspects of the auction rules that we don’t like. However, and I am hoping it doesn’t come to this, if there is litigation against Ofcom’s ruling, we will have no choice but to review our position.' The operator later issued a statement that said it had 'no appetite for litigation'.
Editor: Graeme Neill