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The mobile broadband network is nearing full capacity, meaning demand is soon set to exceed supply, it has been claimed.

Ed Richards, Chief Executive at Ofcom, told attendees at the Royal Welsh Show that the increasing number of people using dongles to get online is putting pressure on the system.

He said UK users are now seeing "the beginnings of a capacity pinch", as data-enabled smartphones and dongles "chew through media-rich websites and process more background traffic".

"But while demand is booming – mobile data usage has grown by more than 1,800 per cent in the UK in the past two years – the frequencies, or spectrum, upon which it and so many other similar services are carried have not," Mr Richards added.

He noted that the laws of physics mean it is impossible for new spectrum to be created, although it can be diverted from other services such as analogue television.

According to a new study conducted by Infonetics Research, 1.8 billion consumers around the world will be using mobile broadband services within five years.

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