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Delaying the UK's 4G radio spectrum auction will cost the economy hundreds of millions per year, the Open Digital Policy Organisation has warned.

The body has estimated that, with faster mobile broadband services, businesses would be able to save 37 million hours per year.

Those extra hours cost the economy a projected £732 million per year, the organisation claimed.

A number of leading nations – including the US, Germany, Sweden and Korea – have already launched 4G mobile broadband services, putting the UK at a competitive disadvantage.

"Visitors to Britain will first notice London's lack of 4G mobile data when they arrive for the Olympics next year," said Open Digital Chief Executive James Firth.

"In addition to the lost time through slow mobile data, businesses won't be able to fully benefit from new cloud-based business tools until the UK has a nationwide reliable high speed mobile data network."

Ofcom does not expect commercial 4G services to launch before 2013 in Britain.

Three recently warned the government that some of its broadband provider rivals – those with spare 3G capacity – may seek to delay the auction.

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