Telefonica unveils 4G trial network at Mobile World Congress

27 Feb 2012

Spanish telecoms giant Telefonica has unveiled what it calls ‘the first live experience of the world’s ‘smartest’ 4G network’ at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. The operator has revealed that it is offering trial services using Long Term Evolution (LTE) technology over the 2.6GHz band, with download speeds of up to 100Mbps on offer, while uplink rates are reportedly between 40Mbps and 60Mbps. Further, the operator claims the new infrastructure offers ‘vastly improved indoor coverage’ while it says it can ‘increase capacity by up to 400% in high-density traffic areas’. Based on French-US vendor Alcatel-Lucent’s lightRadio technology, Telefonica also argues that the trial infrastructure is a first step towards a real heterogeneous network (HetNet); in the deployment conventional radio base stations co-exist with 4G metro cells (small base stations incorporating antennas and radio) working on the same frequency and with no interference. Commenting specifically on the capacity benefit offered by the network, Telefonica also claims that each cell can support 30 people browsing simultaneously with an average downstream speed of 30Mbps. Another key benefit of the advanced feature network touted by the operator, meanwhile, is that it utilises the same frequency for several network layers, which Telefonica says allows for far more efficient use of spectrum. Further, the solution is also likely to reduce network deployment costs by as much as 40%, in part ‘as the installation of small-cells significantly reduces the amount of construction, installation and configuration work needed’.

Enrique Blanco, Telefonica’s chief technology officer, said of the technological development: ‘The deployment of LTE that Telefonica has brought to the MWC, together with Alcatel -Lucent, gives us a glimpse of a tomorrow where everyone and everything is seamlessly connected, and in superfast time. But the challenge ahead is to ensure that all the technologies currently being deployed – 2G, 3G, LTE, Wi-Fi and fibre – can co-exist to deliver next generation communications.’