Telefonica O2 to test LTE in six countries, but no deployment plans

A significant boost has been given to the future success of LTE with the announcement from Telefonica O2 that it planned to conduct field trials of the technology in six countries within the next six months. However, the company said that these tests would only act as a guide to any future LTE roll-out, helping Telefonica O2 to be fully prepared when a decision became necessary.

The countries chosen include Spain, the UK, Germany, the Czech Republic and, surprisingly, Argentina and Brazil. The vendors selected to support these trials are Alcatel-Lucent, Ericsson, NSN, NEC, Huawei and ZTE, with each being given a separate country in which to build a network for the six-month test period. However, Telefonica O2 said that the trials would not necessarily be limited to six infrastructure vendors or six countries, which might open the doors to players like Fujitsu or Motorola.

The company is being vague about the commercial deployment of LTE, only confirming that it is continuing to define its LTE strategy and the trial results would help with this effort. In several markets selected for the test, Telefonica O2 does not own free spectrum suitable for LTE. COO, Julio Linares, added that the trials were also about "offering the best service from the moment that the equipment and terminals can support the new standards and are available for sale."

The first European commercial LTE network is scheduled by TeliaSonera to go live next year in Sweden, whereas Telefonica O2 demonstrated mobile VoIP and video conferencing over LTE six months ago in Madrid.

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