O2 has begun a 4G mobile broadband technology trial in London - the first Long Term Evolution (LTE) network in the capital.
The nine month trial will see hundreds of consumers, businesses and venue owners across London equipped with the latest 4G technology.
The trial network will consist of 25 4G sites covering a combined area of 40 square kilometres, stretching from Hyde Park to The O2 in Greenwich and covering key areas including Canary Wharf, Soho, Westminster, South Bank and Kings Cross.
“Today’s launch of the UK’s first 4G London trial network demonstrates our commitment to delivering 4G to our customers at the earliest opportunity,” said Ronan Dunne, Chief Executive Officer of Telefónica UK (O2).
“The work we are doing now will lay the foundations for our commercial 4G network when it launches in the UK.”
O2 will provide around 1000 trialists 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.
The Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET), with offices at Savoy Place in Embankment, is one of the exclusive trial partners of the 4G LTE network.
Other partners involved in the trial include department store John Lewis, small business Enterprise Nation, O2's music venue The O2 Arena, and selected Gizmodo UK readers.
O2 says the network will enable it to provide a mobile internet experience comparable to the fastest landline fibre home broadband connections, allowing it to provide services including high speed corporate LAN access, high-definition 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.
Real-time network performance data, combined with anecdotal feedback from customers, will be collected throughout the trial which will continue until June 2012.
The results will be used to influence and shape O2’s plans for the commercial implementation of its forthcoming 4G network, following Ofcom’s 4G spectrum auction, which is expected to take place next year.
The O2 4G trial will use the 2.6GHz spectrum band under a Test and Development licence granted to O2 by 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,” said 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."
Telefónica UK’s 4G trial network has been deployed using equipment supplied by Nokia Siemens Networks for both the Radio and Core network elements.
Backhaul for the 4G trial network has been provided using Microwave Radio Equipment from Cambridge Broadband Networks Limited, NEC and Nokia Siemens Networks.