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UK consumers may be able to get their hands on an Apple iPad 3 as early as autumn 2011, industry sources have suggested.

According to DigiTimes, a number of Taiwan-based companies have begun to prepare materials for the production of a third-generation tablet.

The news provider believes that component manufacturers including Foxconn Electronics, Simplo Technologies, Dynapack International Technology, TPK Holding and Wintek will be involved in the construction process.

DigiTimes reported that the iPad 3 has recently been added to the production schedule, with a small number of the touch-screen tablets set to be made during August.

Volumes will then pick up in September and October as the product enters the global consumer market, the sources said.

For people in the UK, this could mean the launch of new iPad broadband deals later this year, giving them a new option for accessing the internet on the move.

The iPad 2 has proved hugely popular in the UK since its spring 2011 launch, following the pattern of strong tablet sales worldwide over the last 14 months.

Such was the level of demand for the upgraded iPad that order delivery times were soon pushed back from two to three days to a number of weeks.

Consumer demand for the tablet outpaced supply, causing many retailers to sell out their initial stocks in a matter of hours.

Apple has made no comment on the potential for an autumn iPad 3 launch, which would come just six months after the second-generation tablet hit the shelves.

But the reports may cause alarm among rival manufacturers, who have struggled to keep pace with Apple in the tablet market since the original iPad launched in April 2010.

A number of UK broadband providers are currently offering Apple iPad tablets with 3G mobile broadband and Wi-Fi connectivity.

Consumers can take out an iPad broadband deal with Vodafone, O2, T-Mobile, Orange and Three in the UK, enabling them to access the web via their mobile device.

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