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Motorola starts UK trials of 4G mobile broadband

Field tests of LTE, the successor to 3G broadband, begin at the communications company's Swindon facility
Written by David Meyer, Contributor

Motorola has launched UK trials of the leading candidate for 4G mobile broadband technology, the long-term evolution (LTE) of 3G.

The communications equipment maker began the trials at its testing facility in Swindon on Monday. It plans to test out live LTE calls with data streaming, using a prototype LTE device and the 2.6GHz spectrum band that is due to be auctioned later this year.

LTE is one of the standards proposed for the fourth generation (4G) of mobile broadband, its chief competitor being mobile WiMax. Both are faster and supposedly more reliable than existing 3G services. In the UK, LTE is generally seen as being far more likely to be the successor than mobile WiMax, which has found greater success in parts of the world that do not already have established, high-speed 3G services.

The Swindon site, which Motorola has long used for the testing of GSM base station equipment, is now open to operators who might want to start LTE field trials in the UK.

So-called '4G' technologies such as LTE and mobile WiMax are not necessarily the next step in the evolution of mobile broadband. Vodafone, for instance, is currently trialling a standard called HSPA+ that builds upon the current, HSPA generation of 3G. HSPA+, unlike LTE or mobile WiMax, does not require entire networks to be ripped out and replaced.

Vodafone claims to have hit 16Mbps in its HSPA+ trials, but LTE promises theoretical speeds of hundreds of gigabits per second.

Motorola said in its statement that it planned to demonstrate a "standards-compliant" LTE call on Monday in Swindon, but ZDNet UK was unable to confirm with the company that this had gone ahead as planned, given the heavy snow that hit southern England on Monday.

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