Everything Everywhere, the joint venture between British mobile network operators T-Mobile UK and Orange UK, has announced that it is to extend the trials of Long Term Evolution (LTE) technology that it is currently undertaking with BT Wholesale.
As previously reported by CommsUpdate, in May 2011 Everything Everywhere and BT announced plans to launch a pilot of the 4G technology in the St Newlyn East area of Cornwall in the second half of that year, with the tests initially expected to run for a three-month period. The duo said that the aim of the project was to ascertain the capabilities of LTE in the 800MHz band for customers in rural regions that currently can either only get slow fixed line broadband or cannot be connected at all via traditional fixed line technologies due to cost or geographical difficulties.
With the trials having eventually gotten underway in October 2011, Everything Everywhere notes that since then some 180 customers living in the area have been utilising the wireless broadband service. UK telecoms regulator Ofcom has now reportedly signed off on approval for the trials to run until the end of June 2012, in order to allow the operators to continue examining the use of LTE in rural regions. Everything Everywhere has noted that thus far the project has been ‘successfully demonstrating that fixed and mobile technologies can work together to provide a broadband delivery option for remote rural areas’. Further, the mobile JV has argued that the tests have also proven that the low frequency spectrum – such as the 800MHz band allocated for the trial – is ‘optimal for enabling broadband in remote rural communities’. Those trialists taking part in the project are reported to be enjoying downlink speeds of around 7Mbps via LTE, whereas previously many had either speeds no higher than 2Mbps, or indeed had no broadband connectivity at all.
Commenting on the merits of the trials, Nigel Stagg, BT Wholesale CEO, stated: ‘This trial is enabling us to see at first hand the real difference LTE is making in rural Cornwall and how it could provide an alternative mode of delivery in rural areas to complement fibre delivered broadband. There’s no doubt that fixed line solutions offer a faster and more reliable broadband service, but there isn’t a single silver bullet to meet the rural broadband challenge. We continue to also assess other potential solutions including other mobile and wireless technologies.’