A live customer trial of the '4G' mobile broadband technology LTE is to take place in Cornwall, with collaborators Everything Everywhere and BT keen to see whether it is viable as a shared fixed and mobile platform.
Announced on Wednesday, the trial will run from September to early next year in the St Newlyn East area of South Newquay, with up to 100 mobile and 100 fixed-line customers taking part. Although LTE trials have already taken place in the UK — indeed, even in Cornwall — this will be the first to involve real-world customer use.
The trial will use two 10MHz chunks of test 800MHz spectrum, of the sort that is being cleared of broadcast use in the digital switchover. Such spectrum will, along with 2.6GHz, go up for auction early next year, with commercial services likely to appear in 2013.
"We strongly believe that, by sharing our network and mobile assets in this way, we can make a valuable contribution to the economics of rural broadband services," Everything Everywhere chief Tom Alexander said in a statemnt. "Our work with BT is providing a test bed for new technologies such as 4G LTE which, with the correct allocation of sub-1GHz spectrum from the government, has the potential to make a real impact on the way in which we communicate in the future."
BT announced a massive project to bring high-speed broadband to Cornwall in September last year, with funding coming from both the company and the EU. While much of that rollout is to be fibre-based, the company has also been experimenting with wireless alternatives.
"BT is committed to bringing the highest speed broadband to everyone in the UK, whether that's over fibre, copper or airwaves," BT Wholesale chief Sally Davis said on Wednesday. "This is a great mixed economy example of innovation and collaboration by two organisations pushing the boundaries of technology for the benefit of customers. The expectation of what we will learn is truly exciting, as much for the customers who are unable to get a broadband service in a number of rural communities across the country."
Everything Everywhere represents the merged operations of T-Mobile UK and Orange UK.