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BT to trial 4G LTE broadband in Cornwall

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BT / British Telecom logo

© BT

BT has announced a partnership with mobile carrier Everything Everywhere for the UK's first ever live customer trial of next-generation 4G mobile broadband.

Starting in September and running into 2012, the trial will involve 100 mobile and 100 fixed line customers living around the St Newlyn East area of South Newquay, Cornwall. They will test 4G wireless technology, also known as long-term evolution (LTE), which is capable of delivering mobile broadband speeds of up to 100Mbps.

An initial test of 4G LTE is already under way at BT's laboratories at Adastral Park in Suffolk, but the field trial is designed to show the "realistic" mobile broadband speeds achievable via 4G outside of laboratory conditions. The scheme will also gauge the viability of 4G LTE as a shared fixed and mobile platform.

Mobile broadband is viewed by many as a possible solution to the problem of 'not-spot' areas in the UK of patchy or no fixed-line internet coverage. BT's field trial will use the long-range 800MHz spectrum, judging its capability as a "compelling and long-term complementary solution" to the problem of limited broadband coverage, particularly in rural regions.

During the free trial, Everything Everywhere will also test the capabilities of 4G-enabled mobile handsets and broadband dongles in the participating households.

Everything Everywhere chief executive Tom Alexander said that the company's aim is to have the best 4G network and help pioneer Britain's "superfast wireless future".

"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," said Alexander.

"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.

"The government has previously stated its desire for the UK to have the best in class superfast broadband network in Europe by 2015, and we hope to help this vision become a reality."

Sally Davis, the chief executive of BT Wholesale, added: "BT is committed to bringing the highest speed broadband to everyone in the UK, whether that's over fibre, copper or airwaves.

"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."

Next year, Ofcom will launch the UK's largest ever single auction of mobile phone spectrum, towards the aim of enabling next-generation 4G mobile services.

According to Ofcom's latest research, 4G will be able to deliver more than 200% of the capacity of existing 3G technologies, while using the same amount of spectrum. This efficiency is expected to increase to approximately 450% by 2020.

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