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Having come under fire from a number of mobile broadband providers, Ofcom has chosen to extend its consultation on the launch of 4G services over the 1,800MHz spectrum band.

Everything Everywhere is aiming to launch next-generation mobile broadband services using its existing network capacity, prior to Ofcom's spectrum auction later in the year.

And the media regulator recently approved the group's plan to do so, meaning Orange and T-Mobile - the two UK subsidiaries of Everything Everywhere - could launch next-generation mobile services in 2012.

However, O2, Three and Vodafone are among the mobile broadband providers to have criticised the plans, arguing that this will give Everything Everywhere an unfair competitive advantage.

The firms are waiting to bid for 4G radio spectrum in the 800MHz and 2.6GHz bands, when Ofcom conducts its spectrum auction in the second half of 2012.

In a public statement, Ofcom said it had extended the period for responding to its 'Notice of proposed variation of Everything Everywhere's 1,800MHz spectrum licences to allow use of LTE and WiMAX technologies' from April 17th 2012.

Industry stakeholders will now have until May 8th to make their submissions - which means 4G broadband is now set to have a later launch date in the UK.

"We have decided to extend this period following requests from stakeholders for more time to respond," Ofcom added.

Earlier this week, O2 expressed concern at Ofcom's proposal to allow any operator to launch 4G early on its existing spectrum.

The firm said this is "contradictory to its objective" of delivering a competitive market environment with four competing players.

"This could expose the process to further risk of delay," the service provider claimed.

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