Vodafone Germany tests LTE in digital dividend spectrum

Rural communities in Germany are the target for the trial of broadband Internet services using LTE in the 790MHz-862MHz band, or digital dividend spectrum. The trial will see Vodafone Germany join with German public broadcaster WDR and the federal government of North Rhine-Westphalia to better understand the capabilities of LTE to provide broadband download speeds up to 17Mbps.

The use of the 790MHz-862MHz band for this trial is specifically aimed at how LTE could serve sparsely populated regions in Europe, with the higher frequency bands, such as the 1.8 GHz or 2.6GHz, already marked as being appropriate for urban LTE deployment where high demand is more predictable. This Vodafone trial is similar to that already underway with the German operator, E-Plus, together with the state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, on a pilot of rural LTE for fixed and mobile access in the same frequency band.

These trials have the support of the German government given its determination to push forward with wireless broadband. As such, it plans to auction a huge 340MHz of spectrum in various bands later this year if given the OK by the German telecoms regulator - which seems very likely considering Germany's drive to be in the forefront of wireless broadband.

However, Finland is presently in pole position having granted additional 1.8GHz frequencies to 3G operators TeliaSonera, Elisa and DNA for LTE. However, the valuable digital dividend spectrum around 700MHz has not been made available to these operators due to potential interference issues with neighbouring Russia.

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