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In a decision which will dismay broadband provider 3, the UK's 4G auction has been delayed until the final quarter of 2012.

The auction was due to be staged during the first three months of next year, but has been pushed back following an extensive consultation process.

Ofcom said it had received a number of substantial and strongly-argued responses, which have led to a refined analysis of the situation.

"In light of these responses, and the significance of the decisions that we need to take - decisions that are likely to shape the future of the mobile sector in the UK for the next decade or more - we have decided to undertake a further round of consultation on these issues," the regulator stated.

"We plan to publish a further consultation document around the end of this year. We will then give stakeholders an appropriate period of time in which to comment on our refined analysis and respond to our revised proposals - likely to be at least eight weeks."

Ofcom said it would look to release a statement next summer confirming the date of the 4G spectrum auction.

Three recently called on the government and Ofcom to ensure 4G radio spectrum is auctioned off as soon as possible, enabling broadband providers to deliver enhanced dongle services.

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