updated 03:20 pm EST, Mon November 14, 2011
1,000 users to try 4G networking over next 9 mos.
UK wireless carrier O2 has said that it will soon begin trials for 4G LTE network services in the greater London area. O2 plans to deploy the service in a 40 square mile area and give users as much as 100Mbps downstream. The trials will begin later this month and last for the next nine months.
O2 plans to offer the opportunity to test LTE networking to just 1,000 people, however. The carrier is also involving several partner businesses including retailer John Lewis, the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET), the O2 Arena, business incubator Enterprise Nation, and Gizmodo UK.
Coverage will extend from Hyde Park to the London suburb of Greenwich. The trial will not provide total geographic coverage, but it will include key areas of the capital including Canary Wharf, Soho, Westminster, South Bank and Kings Cross. The service will be offered to both individual users and businesses.
Trial participants will be given Samsung B3730 modems. They will also be provided with 4G personal wireless hotspots and smartphones from a number of other companies.
The UK and Europe lag the US in the deployment of LTE 4G services. Ofcom, the independent regulator and competition authority for the UK communications industries will not even begin to auction off the spectrum to be used by 4G networks until the end of 2012, and doesn't anticipate general services being offered until sometime in 2013.