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Three’s decision to press ahead with a legal battle over Britain’s first auction of mobile spectrum in five years will harm consumers and hold back investment, one of Britain’s most powerful telecoms industry executives has claimed.

Mark Evans, chief executive of O2, Britain’s second biggest mobile operator after BT, described as unacceptable Three’s decision to launch a legal appeal after a High Court judge last month threw out a judicial review it had mounted over the terms of the auction.

Mr Evans said: “The judgment was firm . . . but we have got one operator [Three] which seems besotted with delaying investment and delaying the ability of others to compete. That is frustrating.”

Four companies – O2, Three, BT and Vodafone – are expected to bid in the auction which will increase by almost a third the UK airwaves available to support mobile devices.

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