O2 plans to test long-term evolution of 3G technology in the UK, with trials likely to take place before summer 2010.
On Wednesday, the operator's parent company Telefónica said it will launch field tests of long-term evolution (LTE), the next generation of mobile broadband technology, in six countries "during the coming months". The trials will take place in the UK, Spain, Germany, the Czech Republic, Brazil and Argentina.
A spokesman for O2 said he believes the British trial will begin "within the next six months". No details were given as to whether the tests will involve O2 customers, or where in the UK they will take place.
The LTE trials will be the first to be carried out by any operator in the UK, although T-Mobile, Vodafone and Orange have all said they intend to roll out such networks in the future.
Telefónica has named Alcatel-Lucent, Ericsson, Huawei, NEC, Nokia Siemens Networks and ZTE as the initial technology suppliers for the six-month-long field tests, although the project is still open to other suppliers.
According to Telefónica, LTE will allow its operators to offer their customers peak mobile broadband speeds of up to 340Mbps "in ideal conditions". The new technology will also make it possible to utilise spectrum more flexibly and boost network capacity, the company said.
The first European commercial LTE network is scheduled by TeliaSonera to go live next year in Sweden. The US operator Verizon is also pushing for a 2010 launch of its LTE network.