O2 Germany joins race to deploy LTE

Germany is fast becoming the proving ground for LTE deployment as O2 joins Vodafone in announcing plans to offer the service later this year.

The company, which along with T-Mobile and Vodafone won 800 MHz and 2.6 GHz spectrum in the recent auction, has announced it will build pilot networks supporting both frequencies.

By the end of this year the cities of Munich and Halle will be the first to have 2.6 GHz coverage, followed by two test networks operating in the 800 MHz band located in the rural areas of Ebersberg (east of Munich) and Teutschenthal (to the west of Halle).

O2 Germany has hedged its bets by selecting NSN and Huawei as the LTE equipment suppliers for these early-stage deployments. No mention has been made as to the terminals that will be made available.

Commenting on the announcement, Rene Schuster, CEO of Telefónica O2 Germany, said: "Our goal is to offer this new technology to our customers nationwide as soon as possible. We are working closely together with network equipment suppliers and equipment manufacturers and use the global know-how from Telefónica."

Separately, the US FCC has given the OK for operators to use the first LTE handset approved for use in the US. The Samsung SCH-R900, which was first announced at the CTIA Wireless conference earlier this year, will be offered by MetroPCS, and not Clearwire or Verizon as was expected.

Little is presently known about the SCH-R900 apart from that it will be CDMA compatible and support Wi-Fi, indicating that it is likely to be a high-end smartphone.

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