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4G services will be rolled out in the UK earlier than expected after a historic agreement was reached between the major mobile broadband providers.

At a meeting with the government and media regulator Ofcom, O2 and Vodafone agreed not to pursue legal action against EE - which has been granted permission to launch 4G services in the 1,800MHz spectrum band.

And as a result, the timetable for the introduction of 4G services in the 800MHz and 2.6GHz frequency bands has been brought forwards to spring 2013.

This means the likes of Vodafone and O2 should be able to compete with EE's 4G service at an earlier stage, helping to alleviate concerns over unfair competition.

Previously, it has been expected that 4G services would launch in late 2013 at the earliest, with spectrum auctioned off in the new year.

Culture Secretary Maria Miller commented that delivering 4G quickly is "a key part" of the coalition government's economic growth strategy.

The launch of 4G services will provide faster and more reliable mobile broadband coverage, across a wider geographic area.

"I am grateful to the mobile operators for their co-operation in bringing forward vital 4G services," Ms Miller stated.

She said that by speeding up the delivery of 4G in the UK, the government is creating "enormous opportunities".

"It is up to the operators to now deliver the services that businesses and consumers expect and we are confident they will succeed," she stated.

Ed Richards, Chief Executive at Ofcom, said the actions taken by the government and mobile broadband industry will "avoid the risk of significant delay".

He described this as "tremendous news" for consumers who might otherwise have waited a considerable period for the next generation of mobile broadband services.

"Ofcom’s objective has always been to release the spectrum as early as possible and we remain focused on starting the auction by the end of the year," Mr Richards added.

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