Mobile telecommunications carrier O2 today began the first large-scale trial of "4G" networking technology in the UK.
The trial, which over 15 square miles in London and is expected to include 1,000 people, is based on the LTE wireless networking standard. Theoretically, O2’s trial network supports speeds of 150Mbps, far faster than fibre optic home broadband connections, although the real-world speeds will be far lower.
Consumers and businesses including John Lewis have been given Samsung mobile broadband dongles to test the service, as there are currently no phones sold in the UK which operate on an LTE network. The network infrastructure was built using equipment from Cambridge Broadband Networks Limited, NEC and Nokia Siemens Networks.
Ronan Dunne, CEO of Telefónica UK (O2), said that O2 was committed to developing a commercial 4G network and that the next-generation would offer "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," Dunne said.
"We are actively engaged in the auction and are supportive of a fair process that meets the Government’s and Ofcom’s planned timeline."
LTE is useful for its ability to penetrate into buildings and support large numbers of users. According to the International Telecommunications Union, the long-term evolution (LTE) technology being used in the trial is not strictly fast enough to be called 4G.
Everything Everywhere (Orange and T-Mobile) is currently running a smaller scale trial of LTE in St Newlyn East, Devon.