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Retail Technology, Retail technology News

O2 launches 4G trials

Friday November 18 2011

UK’s largest superfast broadband trial network launches to explore the technology before national introduction

O2_LTE_trial_screnshotUK’s largest superfast broadband trial network launches to explore the technology before national introduction


O2 yesterday switched on the first 4G or LTE (Long Term Evolution) network in the capital, offering a unique glimpse into the future of superfast mobile broadband.


The trial, which will run for the next nine months, will see O2 equip hundreds of consumers, businesses and venue owners with the latest 4G technology and give exclusive access to the first and largest urban 4G network in the UK.


Providing citywide coverage area


Over 25 4G sites will go live across London this month, covering a combined area of 40 square kilometres, between now and June 2012. It said the network will stretch from Hyde Park to The O2 in Greenwich and has been carefully designed to cover key areas of the capital, including Canary Wharf, Soho, Westminster, South Bank and Kings Cross.


The network will enable O2 to provide a mobile internet experience comparable to the fastest landline fibre home broadband connections, unlocking a wealth of services including high speed corporate local area network (LAN) access, high-definition (HD) film and music streaming, mobile online gaming and high-speed access to social networks. At these speeds, the time to download a 500MB file could be as fast as under one minute, compared to over 5 minutes on 3G.


Ronan Dunne, chief executive officer of Telefónica UK, O2’s parent company, said: “The launch of the UK’s first 4G London trial network demonstrates our commitment to delivering 4G to our customers at the earliest opportunity. The work we are doing now will lay the foundations for our commercial 4G network when it launches in the UK.”


O2 will provide those participating in the trial with Samsung B3730 mobile broadband dongles, supporting speeds of up to 100Mbps, and well as 4G personal wireless hotspots and handsets from a number of other vendors. Over 1,000 individuals were expected to take part.


Retailers participate at the forefront


The trial also involves a number of exclusive partners, including retailers like John Lewis, who is one of O2’s largest corporate customers to be signed to the trial to pilot the benefits of 4G internally and explore the impact it will have on its operations.


The O2 4G trial will use the 2.6GHz spectrum band under a Test and Development licence granted to O2 by UK telecoms regulator Ofcom, and is an extension of O2’s earlier 4G trials in Slough that have been running since 2009. The 2.6GHz band supports the maximum 20MHz RF bandwidth for LTE, which allows 4G speeds of up to 150Mbps.


“O2 has been at the heart of the mobile data explosion over the last three years and our priority has always been to build ahead of the curve,” continued Dunne. “Our work in London will give us a better understanding of the capabilities of 4G technology and will allow us to explore the superfast benefits it will bring to people and industry across the UK. This 4G trial is the next step on our journey to a smarter network - a network that offers a seamless, connected experience across multiple devices, locations and services.


“The forthcoming spectrum auction is a watershed moment for the UK mobile industry, which will see the release of the airwaves capable of powering a whole range of exciting next-generation mobile services. We are actively engaged in the auction and are supportive of a fair process that meets the Government’s and Ofcom’s planned timeline.”