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O2 records 150Mbps mobile internet speeds in 4G trial

Mobile operator tests 4G broadband network in London

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Mobile operator O2 has published the results of its recent 4G trials in London, claiming to have recorded speeds of up to 150Mbps.

The trials, which began in December 2011, involved 1,000 consumers and businesses and covered an area of 40sq km, stretching from Hyde Park to Canary Wharf.

While a top speed of 150Mbps was reportedly recorded, most people on the trial experienced speeds of between 20Mbps and 50Mbps – which is still over 20 times faster than 3G, according to O2. Meanwhile, O2 said the ‘click to bang rate’ (the time it takes for a page to load) was 0.07 seconds, and 40MB files could be downloaded in “a matter of seconds”.

The 4G trials took place using the 2.6GHz spectrum band under a test and development licence granted by Ofcom. Spectrum at this frequency, as well as 800MHz spectrum freed up by the switch over from analogue TV, will be made available in large quantities for 4G provision, following an auction by Ofcom at the end of this year.

Ronan Dunne, chief executive of Telefónica UK (O2), described the forthcoming spectrum auction as “a watershed moment for the UK mobile industry”. He said that the new spectrum will increase capacity, quality and speed of mobile broadband, estimating that capacity could increase by 20 to 40 times from today’s levels.

O2's trials confirms the prediction that the advent of 4G will lead to greater use of bandwidth-hungry applications, such as media streaming and video calls. The company claims that most active trial members have been using 200GB per month, using just a Samsung dongle or personal MiFi hotspot.

Networking company Brocade has previously warned that the benefits of 4G will not be fully realised unless legacy Internet Protocol networks are prepared for the forthcoming deluge of data.

“What many people fail to realise is that the colossal volumes of data that will result from 4G will cause serious problems for unprepared IP networks,” said Brocade's UK country manager Marcus Jewell in January.

“Without action to future-proof the underlying IT infrastructure the limitations of 3G, such as lack of bandwidth, will merely be shifted from the airwaves into the data centre.”

O2 claims that the trials have given it an invaluable insight into the infrastructure demands of a live 4G network, meaning it will be able to hit the ground running when the 4G mobile spectrum becomes available in 2013.

Last month, wireless company UK Broadband switched on the first wholesale 4G network in the London Borough of Southwark, offering high-speed services for the public sector and big corporations, as well as providing backhaul for mobile networks.

UK Broadband’s 4G network will be delivered over six 20MHz channels of spectrum in the 3.5GHz and 3.6GHz bands, which became part of the LTE standard in March 2011.

Meanwhile, Everything Everywhere is hoping to steal a march on its competitors by delivering 4G services using its existing spectrum in the 1800MHz band. Ofcom gave its provisional approval for the plans last month, and is currently consulting on whether the move is anti-competitive.


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