O2 touts LTE capabilities, but mainstream use is years away

Telefonica O2 UK has revealed performance aspects of its LTE trial network that promises to resolve the capacity issues that it and other UK operators are struggling to overcome today.

In a company blog post, O2 said that the trial network of six LTE base stations was proving to be capable of handling the same volume of traffic seen across O2's entire 3G network in the UK.

"That's six next-generation cells capable of doing the work of thousands of current generation cells. The scale is simply enormous," the company said in the blog post, adding that COO Derek McManus, who is in charge of O2's network, IT, technology and innovation, had recently watched the movie "Monsters vs. Aliens" on his laptop in HD video, streamed over the LTE network.

However, O2 indicated that LTE could take a similar amount of time to 3G before it was ready for mass-market use.

"It's taken the best part of 10 years to get 3G from a concept to something that's available to the vast majority of the country. Even right now investment continues (to the tune of about £1 million per day across the country) on the current 2G and 3G network, to improve performance and increase capacity," the company noted.

O2 UK has been running the LTE trial network in partnership with Huawei since December 2009 based around its headquarters in Slough, England. The only other publicly announced UK trial of LTE is being conducted by Alcatel-Lucent and Arqiva in west Wales, with the focus being on using the technology to provide an alternative to fixed rural broadband services. The UK will hold auctions for LTE spectrum next year.

For more:
- see this O2 UK blog post
- see this ZDNet UK article
- see this eWeek Europe Article

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