O2 Reveals 4G Trial Results
O2 has announced results from its UK 4G trial, coinciding neatly with the completion of the switch-over from analogue to digital TV in the UK today. The switchover will free up the airwaves to make way for 4G, following the spectrum auction, which looks most likely to take place in 2013.
The trial includes 25 sites and covers an area of 40sq km, stretching from Hyde Park to Canary Wharf and The O2, including Canary Wharf, Soho, Westminster, South Bank and Kings Cros. It involves around 1,000 people, and O2 says that speeds of between 20 and 50Mbps have been regularly experienced - over 20 times faster than 3G. The fastest speed achieved was 150Mbps, which is comparable to the fastest home landline connections.
Most active trial members have been using 200GB of data per month using just a Samsung dongle or personal mi-fi hotspot, confirming the pent-up demand for high-speed services. The ‘click to bang rate’ (O2’s phrase, we assume it means page load time) on 4G is just 0.07 seconds.
“The forthcoming spectrum auction is a watershed moment for the UK mobile industry, releasing the airwaves that will power a whole range of exciting next-generation mobile services,” says Telefónica UK (O2) CEO, Ronan Dunne. “The new spectrum will increase capacity, quality and speed - we estimate that mobile broadband capacity will increase by 20 to 40 times from today’s levels - and will allow us to deliver true connectivity through a suite of innovative digital services, that work seamlessly and at speed for the benefit of consumers, business and UK plc.”
David Murphy writes:
The results from O2’s 4G trial in the UK must be music to the ears of brands, agencies and mobile marketing firms dreaming of a future where super-fast downloads take mobile marketing campaigns to another level. O2 sounds excited too, as well it might. It is clearly in a good position to be at the forefront of this brave new world once the spectrum has been released.
But one figure to come out of the trial must surely make O2, and other operators, slightly nervous. “Most active trial members have been using 200GB of data per month using just a Samsung dongle or personal mi-fi hotspot.”
200GB? I think the allowance of my Vodafone dongle is 3GB per month, for which I pay £15. If the networks can get consumers, or more likely businesses, to pay pro rata for 65 times the amount of bandwidth, then clearly, as Private Eye would put it, it’s triples all round. But unless I’m missing something obvious, this doesn’t seem likely. The challenge for operators in this brave new 4G world then, is to offer all these super-fast, high-bandwidth, data-rich services that consumers and businesses clearly want, and get them to pay good money for it. I look forward to seeing how they crack this one.