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O2 pilots 100Mbps 4G mobile network in London

One thousand users and John Lewis to act as LTE guinea pigs...
Written by Jo Best, Contributor on

One thousand users and John Lewis to act as LTE guinea pigs...

the O2 arena

The O2 arena will get LTE network coverage as part of a nine-month trialPhoto: Shutterstock

Mobile operator O2 is to give London a taste of LTE.

The capital has been chosen as the testbed for a trial of an LTE (Long Term Evolution of 3G) service, which will run from today for the next nine months, the carrier announced today.

LTE - sometimes referred to as 4G - will provide a speed bump compared to O2's current 3G service in the capital, with the theoretical maximum download speed reaching 100Mbps.

Some 25 LTE sites will be set up around London between now and summer 2012, extending the network across an area around 40 square kilometres. The network will run from Hyde Park to The O2 arena and cover Canary Wharf, Kings Cross, Soho, South Bank and Westminster, according to O2.

More than 1,000 triallists are being enlisted for the pilot, with the operator handing out handsets and dongles to its LTE guinea pigs.

The largest enterprise customer involved in the trial will be department store chain John Lewis, which will be seeing how it can use LTE connectivity in its operations.

According to analyst house ABI Research, LTE connections are expected to hit 16 million by the end of this year, rising to 80 million at the close of 2013.

The UK's contribution to those numbers is likely to be minimal: the auction of mobile spectrum suitable for LTE services has been delayed and will now not go ahead until the end of 2012 at the earliest. Commercial services will not be available in the UK until 2013 at the earliest.

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