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Ofcom plans to sell the spectrum for 4G mobile broadband services next year, in a major development for high-speed internet on-the-go.

After experts had foreseen the arrival of 3G's successor as being several years away, the Times has reported that major mobile broadband providers will be invited to take the next step in portable online technology in 2009.

Writing in the newspaper, Lily Peel has put forward her view that the introduction of 4G into the mainstream mobile broadband market may be too much, too soon.

She said: "The timing could hardly be worse.

"Mobile phone operators have spent billions of pounds rolling out 3G services for comparatively little return; now, amid a financial downturn and at the onset of a global recession, they are gearing up to do it all again."

After trials conducted by Nokia Siemens it was suggested that 4G could potentially reach speeds of up to 173Mb, outstripping even the fastest fixed-line services.

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