O2 trials 4G network in London

By Derek du Preez
14 Nov 2011 View Comments
O2 logo with bubbles

Mobile operator O2 has announced that it will be trialling 4G networks in London with over 1,000 individuals expected to take part.

Starting today, the trial is an extension of an ongoing trial that has been running in Slough since 2009 and will cover 25 sites across the Capital covering 40 square kilometres.

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Sites include Soho, Westminster, South Bank and Kings Cross, and participants will benefit from 4G speeds in these areas for the next nine months.

O2 will provide trialists with Samsung B3730 mobile broadband dongles as well as 4G personal wireless handsets from a number of other vendors.

It is expected that 4G speeds will be comparable with the fastest fibre broadband connections, reaching up to 100Mbps. This means downloading a 500MB file could take as little as one minute, compared to over five minutes on a 3G connection.

Those taking part in the trial include John Lewis and the Institution of Engineering and Technology.

"Our work in London will give us a better understanding of the capabilities of 4G technology and will allow us to explore the super-fast benefits it will bring to people and industry across the UK," said Ronan Dunne, CEO of O2. "The work we are doing now will lay the foundations of our commercial 4G network when it launches in the UK."

The trial has been deployed using equipment supplied by Nokia Siemens Networks for both the radio and core network elements, and the backhaul has been provided using Microwave Radio Equipment from Cambridge Broadband Networks, NEC and Nokia Siemens Networks.

It will use the 2.6GHz spectrum band under a test and development licence granted to O2 by Ofcom.

eBay has come forward in support of O2's trial, as it has submitted a Mobile Manifesto to government claiming that 45 per cent of 3G users are dissatisfied with the speed at which they can download data on their mobile phone, and claims that this is leading to a potential £1.3bn being missed by UK retailers and the wider economy.

eBay is calling for Ofcom to proceed as quickly as possible with the rollout of 4G networks, as the communications regulator has already delayed the spectrum auction from the first quarter of 2012 to the final quarter, owing to feedback following a period of consultation.

"It is very encouraging to see O2 commit to trialling 4G high-speed mobile internet in London. As we set out in our Mobile Manifesto, accelerating 4G rollout is critical to the success of the UK mobile economy, as over 45 per cent of consumers are currently dissatisfied with the speed at which they can complete everyday functions, such as browsing and shopping on their smartphones," said Miriam Lahage, VP of global fashion at eBay.

"This O2 initiative is an important step towards improving UK mobile infrastructure, and will give consumers in London a taste of what is to come after the 4G rollout. Ofcom should proceed with the auction of the 4G spectrum as quickly as possible so consumers and the industry can benefit from the next generation of mobile broadband," added Lahage.

eBay has said that mobile shopping could deliver a £4.5bn boost to Britain's economy by 2016, and a further £13bn by 2021.

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