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The mega auction for the right to operate the UK's third generation mobile phone network - which has so far raised £22 billion for the UK Treasury - has hit a technical snag. On the weekend when millions of UK phone users were dazed and confused by the third set of major area code changes since 1995, the phone lines to the auction nerve centre at the Radiocommunications Agency went down. Bidders were notified by mobile phone that the auction, which ends when one of the remaining six bidders drops out, was halted pending repairs. ®

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