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Liz Jaques 

Ofcom hails 'significant progress' on 4G

Ofcom has welcomed the "significant progress" that has been made in moving forward the delivery of 4G mobile services across the UK.

The 4G auction process is now on track to begin at the end of the year to enable competitive 4G services across UK during the first half of 2013.

Ed Richards, Ofcom chief executive, said: "The actions we have taken with industry and government avoids the risk of significant delay and is tremendous news for consumers who might otherwise have waited a considerable period for the next generation of mobile broadband services.

"Ofcom's objective has always been to release the spectrum as early as possible and we remain focused on starting the auction by the end of the year."

Over the last 18 months, Ofcom has consulted on how it proposes to auction the spectrum. The regulator gave approval to Everything Everywhere (now EE) in August after it requested to run the high-speed 4G services over part of the radio spectrum it already uses for earlier generation technologies.

EE's 4G service is expected to launch in 16 UK cities this year. The mobile company will continue rolling out 4G next year and aims to provide coverage to 98% of the UK by 2014.

Following discussions with TV broadcasters, Digital UK and the transmission company Arqiva, Ofcom has secured the earlier release of frequencies that were previously used for digital-terrestrial broadcasting.

This spectrum will now be cleared and ready for 4G mobile services across much of the UK five months earlier than previously planned, from spring 2013.

Read the full Ofcom statement here.

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