BT and Everything Everywhere are to extend their 4G LTE trial in Cornwall after communications regulator Ofcom agreed to renew their licence until June 2012.
The two companies said that the licence extension granted by Ofcom "will be beneficial to the rollout of any potential subsequent commercial service".
The pilot was announced in May last year and began in October, with the two companies sharing their fixed-line and mobile technology to provide broadband to 180 customers living around St Newlyn East, near Newquay.
According to the companies, the trial has so far successfully demonstrated that fixed and mobile technologies can work together to provide faster broadband in remote rural areas. Residents who previously struggled to obtain speeds of 2Mbit/s are now enjoying an average download speed of 7Mbit/s, they said.
The trial has also demonstrated that the low frequency spectrum of 800MHz is optimal for enabling broadband in remote rural areas, the operators said.
Nigel Stagg, CEO, BT Wholesale, said that the trial was making a difference in Cornwall and showing that there is an alternative mode of delivery in rural areas to complement fibre-delivered broadband.
"There's no doubt that fixed-line solutions offer a faster and more reliable broadband service, but there isn't a single silver bullet to meet the rural broadband challenge. We continue to also assess other potential solutions including other mobile and wireless technologies," he said.
News of the pilot's extension comes two weeks after Ofcom revised its plans for the 4G spectrum auction. In its consultation, Ofcom said that it no longer needs to reserve the 800MHz spectrum for Everything Everywhere in the run-up to the auction because Everything Everywhere already holds a significant amount of 1800MHz spectrum that can be used for the 4G rollout.
Ofcom now says the holder of the 800MHz spectrum will either have to roll out a 4G network to 98 per cent of the population, or match existing 2G coverage and extend into mobile "not spot" areas of the UK.
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