O2 is bringing superfast mobile broadband to London today, switching on the first 4G network in the capital as part of a trial run.
The nine month trial will see O2 equip hundreds of consumers, businesses and venue owners with the latest 4G technology and give exclusive access to what it claims to be the first and largest urban 4G network in the UK.
Over 25 4G sites will go live across London this month, covering a combined area of 40 square kilometres, between now and next summer.
The network will stretch from Hyde Park to The O2 in Greenwich covering key areas of the capital, including Canary Wharf, Soho, Westminster, South Bank and Kings Cross.
The trial 4G network will allow users to access services including high-speed corporate LAN access, high definition film and music streaming, mobile online gaming and high-speed access to social networks.
O2 claims that using the 4G network will allow users to download a 500MB file as fast as under a minute, compared to over five minutes on 3G.
O2 CEO Ronan Dunne said: ‘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. The work we are doing now will lay the foundations for our commercial 4G network when it launches in the UK.’
O2 will provide users on the trial with Samsung B3730 mobile broadband dongles, supporting speeds of up to 100Mbps, as well as 4G personal wireless hotspots and handsets from a number of other vendors. Over 1,000 individuals are expected to take part.
Among those involved in the trial are major businesses including retailer John Lewis, start-up SMEs and music fans via the O2 Arena, which will have its own dedicated 4G internal and external sites providing coverage to The O2 Arena and surrounding area
Real-time network performance data, combined with anecdotal feedback from customers, will be collected throughout the trial. 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 in 2012.
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.
Dunne said: ‘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. 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.’
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.