Everything Everywhere is extending its 4G trial in Cornwall with BT Wholesale until the summer, the company has announced.
The companies have been collaborating to provide wireless broadband to 180 customers in the St Newlyn East area of Cornwall since October. Ofcom has granted both companies an extension until June to continue to test the application of 4G in rural areas.
Everything Everywhere has said the trial has shown that the sub-1GHz spectrum is 'optimal' for bringing broadband to rural communities. The operator said participants are now getting average download speeds of 7Mbps, up from the typical 2Mbps speed they used to get.
Everything Everywhere CEO Olaf Swantee said: 'The rollout of 4G will help drive economic growth and create jobs across the UK by making the economy more competitive, by enabling businesses to be more productive, and by allowing consumers to benefit from the latest mobile innovations. This trial has been key in investigating ways to rapidly bring 4G LTE to Britain, and Ofcom is helping us do the groundwork to accelerate the UK from laggard to leader.'
BT Wholesale CEO Nigel Stagg said: 'This trial is enabling us to see at first hand the real difference LTE is making in rural Cornwall and how it could provide 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.'
Everything Everywhere has argued mobile and fixed operators need to work together to connect rural Britain to broadband. The operator said the coalition government's plans to extend broadband to the last 10% of the population by 2015 is a 'geographic and economic challenge'.
A spokesperson said wireless technologies were more useful for covering rural areas but added: 'From a mobile operator's perspective, providing broadband only over LTE to rural areas via mobile network alone would require high capacity backhaul, many more sites and much higher amount of low frequency spectrum, which is a scarce and valuable resource.
'It makes sense for mobile operators and fixed operators to combine technologies and work together bringing their complementary assets together to deliver a solution for connecting rural Britain.'
Tamasin Battell, one of the Cornwall triallists said: 'Before the 4G trial, my fiancé and I were using a dongle, and downloading anything was impossible it was so slow. Now, we can watch on demand television and stream music. Better still, my fiancé’s sister in Australia has met her four-month-old nephew for the first time over Skype. The extension of the trial is a godsend for me, as I really don’t want to go back to the digital dark age.'