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The reallocation of radio spectrum for next-generation mobile broadband could be hindered by competition between internet service providers.

According to the Guardian, campaigners and analysts have suggested government plans to use the spectrum to bring quicker broadband to rural areas could fail as a result.

With the switch-off of analogue television signals between now and 2012, mobile broadband operators will be presented with a "digital dividend" of freed up spectrum which they can allocate to newer, faster services.

Up to four new licences are expected to be auctioned by 2010, but there are fears that having more networks will not make the delivery of broadband coverage to rural areas any more attractive.

Furthermore, the newspaper reported that many feel sharing the spectrum between so many broadband suppliers might keep the operators themselves happy, but will serve to limit the speeds of the services rolled out.

Ameet Shah, Director of consultancy PRTM, told the Guardian: "It just makes no sense to split up the airwaves evenly so the operators are kept happy.

"It will be uneconomic, so we should have something like a Railtrack for trains, where mobile operators bid to use a geographic region on a national network with huge capacity."

This week, the EU revealed that it could call for a unified strategy on the reallocation of the digital dividend as analogue signals are switched off across Europe.

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