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Delays to the UK's 4G mobile broadband auction could prove to be a blessing in disguise, according to one commentator.

Ofcom is planning to accept bids for spare capacity in the 800MHz and 2.6GHz spectrum bands in late 2012, allowing service providers to provide long-term evolution broadband from 2014 or 2015.

A number of broadband providers with 3G network capacity available have sought to slow down moves towards 4G services, much to the frustration of others such as Three.

The firm believes additional mobile broadband capacity is needed to cope with rising data consumption, as dongles, media tablets and smartphones become more popular.

And with a number of countries already using LTE services to increase mobile broadband speeds and reliability, the UK is at risk of falling behind its rivals.

Marcus Jewell, Brocade UK's Country Manager, said the three-year wait for super-fast mobile broadband is estimated to cost the UK £1.5 billion in total.

However, he suggested there is a silver lining to this cloud, as it provides extra time for investment in the UK's "creaking" broadband infrastructure.

"Much of our network infrastructure is already having difficulty coping with the number of internet-connected devices and the inexorable rise of bandwidth-intensive traffic, such as video and unified communications," Mr Jewell stated.

"It's important to remember that the UK has never been a true 3G nation, with universal coverage and availability. The move to 4G will be an even bigger step up for all concerned, yet [broadband providers] are having a hard enough time responding to the increasing strain on their networks."

He said that when 4G finally brings fixed-line speeds to the millions of mobile devices in the UK, it will increase bandwidth by a factor of four.

Data centres will see an eightfold increase in data, while storage requirements will be 16 times greater, Mr Jewell predicted.

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