British Telecom (BT) and Everything Everywhere (EE) have announced a joint LTE trial for later this year, involving up to 100 mobile and 100 fixed line customers in Cornwall, covering 25 square kilometres. The trial will begin in September and it will continue into early 2012, using two 10MHz channels in the 800MHz spectrum.
It is the first trial of 4G in the UK and will involve the two companies sharing their fixed telecommunications and mobile technology to provide high speed wireless broadband. Everything Everywhere runs two of Britain’s most famous brands – Orange and T-Mobile
It will determine whether 4G could be a cheaper alternative to providing broadband to remote areas. The trial is backed by Nokia, Siemens, Huawei and the Cornwall Development Company.
UK regulator Ofcom has announced plans for a major 4G spectrum auction in the 800MHz and 2.6GHz bands.
The auction, which will begin in the first quarter of 2012, will be one of the largest ever held in the UK, with 80 per cent more spectrum on offer than a similar auction for 3G in 2000.
The 800MHz band consists of spectrum leftover from the switch to digital TV. It will be freed up completely at the end of this Summer. The 2.6GHz band is a huge 200 MHz swath that’s designated for “4G” services world-wide, for both WiMAX and LTE.
The middle section of the 2.6GHz band is generally set aside by governments for unpaired frequencies, commonly used for WiMAX or TD-LTE. The United States is one of the few countries that doesn’t have this spectrum up for auction. That’s because it was privately aggregated by Craig McCaw, Sprint-Nextel, WorldComm, and others, 7-8 years ago.
The European Commission has ruled that member states must allow 4G devices to access both 900 and 1,800 MHz radio frequencies by the end of the year.
Mobile wireless capability is central to the EU’s Digital Agenda and it believes that an increase in Internet uptake will boost competitiveness of the EU’s common market. Neelie Kroes, Commissioner for the EU’s Digital Agenda, said in a statement (pdf) that the “the decision opens the way for the latest 4G mobile devices to gain access to the radio spectrum they need to operate.