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Many rural areas could still be left without mobile broadband coverage after next year's 4G spectrum auction, it has been claimed.

Speaking to PC Pro, Bob Warner, Chairman of the Consumer Communications Panel (CCP), warned that isolated areas could be left behind as urban centres gain super-fast dongle services.

Ofcom is set to auction off spectrum made available by the switchover from analogue to digital TV, with mobile operators preparing themselves for the bidding process.

But with the media regulator requiring operators to serve 95 per cent of the UK with 4G mobile broadband, the CCP believes three million people will be left out.

"The current coverage estimate for mobile is 97 per cent, but what that really means is that 97 per cent of postcodes have at least 90 per cent coverage," Mr Warner stated.

"So it's not 97 per cent of households - it's a lot less than that. It's actually 95 per cent or less if you measure it by household."

He claimed that the money needed to deliver 4G broadband to the countryside would be a relatively small share of the total revenue made.

Mr Warner explained that of the £22 billion generated by the government when it auctioned off 3G spectrum, little or nothing was reinvested back into the UK's broadband infrastructure.

"We need to do that this time, because we won't get this chance again until at least 2020," he added.

Mobile broadband is one of a number of technologies with the potential to bring high-speed internet services to people living in remote communities.

The government has pledged to equip every UK community with at least 2Mb broadband by 2015, but in many cases, constructing copper or fibre networks may be unviable.

For the remotest areas, which lie furthest away from the nearest telephone exchanges, mobile, wireless or satellite broadband may be a more suitable alternative. 

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