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Media regulator Ofcom has announced plans to auction off licences for fourth-generation spectrum, which could create new opportunities for mobile broadband providers.

When 4G technology becomes available in 2012, internet service providers should be able to provide faster download speeds and improved network coverage to dongle users.

Ed Richards, Chief Executive at Ofcom, told BBC Radio 4 Today that 4G represented "the latest generation of mobile technology".

"It will offer services which provide more capacity and better coverage of mobile broadband services," he stated.

Mr Richards noted that 4G will allow tablet and laptop users to receive the same quality of web experience they expect in the home with a fixed broadband connection.

"This is fantastically important spectrum for the future of our economy," he stated.

"It is 80 per cent more spectrum than was offered in 3G in 2000 and will be a crucial raw material for the future of the modern economy."

The auction of 3G spectrum 11 years ago raised £22.5 billion from the telecoms industry for the public finances.

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