O2 UK will use LTE to charge more for high-quality content

O2 UK plans to use LTE service as a "toll road" to charge content providers more for delivering high-quality media content to end users, a company executive said.

The operator has not stated when it will deploy LTE, but that when LTE does arrive the faster technology will allow the operator to charge more for LTE content without degrading service on the company's 3G network, Ronan Dunne, O2 UK's managing director, told ZDNet UK.

He said O2 is currently exploring various business models for working with content providers, but that none of the changes will harm subscribers. "We will never degrade a particular service because of which model is being used," Dunne said. "What we will do is use the example of LTE to provide an equivalent of the M6 toll road, [so content providers can] choose that particular channel to put the most media-rich content through. It's using the network efficiently with a view to optimising the experience for the end user."

So far, the concept of charging more for optimised content has not yet taken hold on a large scale. Dunne said that LTE services will operators to provide tiered bandwidth, and reiterated that the concept is not about degrading the quality of services.

In a separate but related development, O2 Germany announced that it will unveil its commercial service starting in July. The company will become the third provider of LTE following Vodafone and Deutsche Telekom, according to a Telarif.de report. The report said that the operator made the announcement at a press conference at the CeBIT However, while not confirming likely download speeds, the company would appear to be adopting a conservative approach by advising access rates of between 4 Mbps and 16Mbps--significantly lower on Vodafone's advertised 50 Mbps. No pricing details were provided for the planned LTE service.

For more:
- see this ZDNet UK article
- see this Teltarif.de article (German)
- see this Wireless Federation article

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LTE Germany: Vodafone goes live, Deutsche Telekom and O2 continue with trials
LTE: Vodafone Germany unveils tariffs and deployment plans

Phil Goldstein contributed to this report.