Everything Everywhere (EE) and BT have agreed to co-operate on the UK's first LTE trial involving consumers. The two firms said that the project, planned to start in September and last for at least three months, will be one of the first to combine fixed and wireless broadband technologies.
The trial, which would involve 100 mobile and 100 fixed-line users in rural parts of South West England, has been given permission to test LTE as a shared fixed and mobile broadband platform. EE confirmed that it will use 2x10MHz configuration of 800MHz test spectrum to understand whether LTE had the capability to provide a long-term complementary solution to fixed broadband technology where current download speeds remained a problem for remote rural users.
EE CEO Tom Alexander said in a statement: "We strongly believe that by sharing our network and mobile services in this way, we can make a valuable contribution to the economics of rural broadband service."
However, Alexander cautioned that, while LTE was capable of providing speeds of up to 150Mbps, a more realistic range would be from 2Mbps to 40Mbps.
Commenting on the joint effort, Sally Davis, CEO of BT Wholesale, as reported by Think Broadband, said in a statement: "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."
BT said that initial tests were already underway within its main laboratory, while EE confirmed that it planned to provide LTE handsets and dongles as part of the trial, with infrastructure equipment coming from Nokia Siemens Networks and Huawei.
Reacting to the news, Dimitris Mavrakis, an analyst Informa Telecoms & Media, said that this trial pointed toward operators being keen to offer broadband coverage to blackspots. "Everything Everywhere will certainly benefit from T-Mobile's LTE experience in Germany, where the operator has already been offering commercial services for rural areas with considerable user acceptance," Mavrakis told Total Telecom.
The UK government announced that it will auction 800MHz and 2.6GHz LTE spectrum next year.
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