Mobile operator Three is preparing to test out 4G technology, which holds the promise of faster mobile broadband speeds than are possible with today's 3G networks.
Three has said it will begin performing 4G technical trials in the Thames Valley area in early 2012. Photo credit: Enjoy Truro
The operator said on Wednesday that a one-month technical trial
will take place from March in the Thames Valley, the same area where
performed its early 4G tests. Three will be testing out 2.6GHz
spectrum, which is very high-bandwidth, at around four sites close to Maidenhead and Slough.
Further tests, involving real-world customers, will follow later in
the year, Three said.
"With every major upgrade like this smartphone and tablet customers
will find they can enjoy their devices more in more places across the
UK," Three chief David Dyson said in a statement. "Our ability to
provide all-you-can-eat data packages depends on a combination of
smart network management, investment in improved technologies and the
spectrum that is the lifeblood of mobile."
At the moment, O2 is trialling 4G LTE (long-term evolution) technology in London,
while Everything Everywhere (T-Mobile and Orange) is doing the same in
Vodafone has already conducted three LTE trials in the UK, having
started in 2009.
None of the operators can launch their UK 4G services until they
have bought new spectrum at a much-delayed auction, which is now
supposed to take
place at the end of 2012. The auction was originally scheduled
for September 2008, but real and threatened court actions from
some operators — notably O2 and T-Mobile — have repeatedly
put the date back.
The legal threats are part of a protracted squabble between the
operators over who gets to keep or gain how much spectrum come the
auction, a matter that is complicated by the fact that the UK now
'refarming' of 2G voice and SMS spectrum for mobile broadband.
Some operators have 2G spectrum that is suitable for refarming — similar to reallocation or repurposing — and
some do not.
The intra-industry argument is testing the patience
of MPs, culture secretary Jeremy
Hunt and the
regulator Ofcom, all of whom have called on the operators to get
on with it and allow the UK not to fall even further behind other
countries in deploying 4G.
A study published
in October suggested that the UK is losing out on £730m of
potential economic benefits each year, due to its lack of 4G
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