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BT and Everything Everywhere trial 4G in UK

50 per cent of mobile broadband users will be using LTE by 2017, Ericsson claims

Everything Everywhere, the network operator for the Orange and T-Mobile brands, and BT Wholesale have announced that they are trialling LTE broadband in the UK. 

The two companies will collaborate to provide wireless broadband to approximately 200 customers in the county of Cornwall, areas of which have low or no broadband service available. 

In December 2010, Arqiva and Alcatel-Lucent also teamed up to trial LTE in the UK. The six-month trial took place in a notorious ‘not-spot’ in Wales with the firms delivering speeds of over 50Mbit/s using 800MHz spectrum, which was freed up by digital TV switchover.

However, BT and Everything Everywhere claim that their trial is the world’s first test of an LTE solution that can be deployed to both mobile and fixed-location customers. The rollout follows a successful eight-week laboratory trial which tested the network deployment in simulated conditions. 

The purpose of the laboratory testing was to prove it would be possible to share, manage and optimise radio resources between two service providers. The companies are now conducting a field trial, and this will examine the experience of customers, to help both companies test and better understand the reality of the LTE speeds that they can provide. 

The operators added that the trial in Cornwall will be key to understanding how LTE will perform in real life conditions, as data speeds can vary due to a number of factors including the number of people using the network and physical factors such as distance to a mast. 

Of the 200 traillists, 100 will be mobile users and 100 will be fixed-wireless broadband users, all living in a 25 square kilometre area within Cornwall. 

The shared fixed and mobile platform will use 10MHz of test 800MHz spectrum. 

The trial is set to run until 2012, and triallists will have access to a dedicated help desk and support website, where they can report their experience. 

“If the trial is successful, it means that LTE could provide an alternative mode of broadband delivery in rural areas to complement fibre delivered broadband,” an Everything Everywhere spokesperson told Telecoms.com.

“Once the trial is complete, and we have collated and analysed all the data we collect, we will then think about how LTE might be deployed and where.  But it’s too early at this stage to speculate.”

Nigel Stagg, CEO, BT Wholesale added that the company is working with the government to find ways of addressing broadband ‘not-spots’ in the UK. 

“The final ten per cent of the country won’t be covered by government funds and is exceedingly difficult to reach with the available standard fixed line solutions,” he said. “Our proof of concept trial in Cornwall will test the capabilities and services that a shared fixed and mobile data network can support and is just one of the technologies, along with fibre, that we are looking at to offer a possible solution to the rural broadband challenge.”


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