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Timico CTO Experiences 40Mbps Speeds on O2 UK Trial of 4G Mobile Broadband

Wednesday, Mar 28th, 2012 (4:58 pm) - Score 518

The Chief Technology Officer (CTO) and Co-Founder of business ISP Timico UK, Trefor Davies, has reported experiencing “4G” superfast Mobile Broadband download speeds of up to 40Mbps (23Mbps upload) while taking part in O2’s (Telefonica) Long Term Evolution (LTE) technology trial in the city of London.

Timico is apparently the first service provider partner to be invited onto O2’s London trials, which began last November 2011 (here) and will run for 9 months via 25 masts that cover approximately 15 square miles (i.e. Canary Wharf, Soho, Westminster, South Bank and Kings Cross). The lack of LTE capable handsets means that trial users will, at least for now, be restricted to using Samsung USB Modems (Dongles) and special LTE Wi-Fi routers (MiFi).

O2 claims that users of its LTE trial should experience mobile internet speeds of between 25-50Mbps. “This service is like lightening. It’s fast, speedy, call it what you like it’s a life changer. It’s been one of those projects that has been a pleasure to be involved in,” said Davies.

Trefor Davies, CTO of Timico UK, said:

There were a few observations to be made out of this trial. The raw speed I saw with O2s 4G was terrific when in good coverage areas. The amount of data you can download in a very small amount of time is going to change the game. In upgrading the dongle firmware for example I used 50MB in around a minute. If you consider that until recently a typical “fair use” policy for an “unlimited” data package was 500MB then you can see that the model is going to have to change. The backhaul capacity that mobile operators are going to have to build in to their networks is going to have to see growth measured in orders of magnitude.

Spectrum allocation for 4G rollout is going to be very important. At 2,600MHz the bandwidth you can get is much higher than at 800MHz, say. However the in-building penetration at the higher speed is not as good so the overall network design represents an interesting (though not insurmountable I’m sure) challenge for engineers. This makes the forthcoming Ofcom spectrum auction important – there is a mix of spectra that is going to be optimum for commercial success.

As a side note it is going to be interesting to see how much the operators are prepared to pay for spectrum – they all think they overpaid for 3G but the demand has not been there for most of the time that 3G has been around. It is different this time and people are starting to get used to paying for the bandwidth they use.

From an end user perspective the ability to have genuinely fast internet access on your laptop, tablet or mobile phone is going to change their experience. Whilst WiFi is becoming more common, at least in pubs, coffee shops and other public places the need to authenticate is still a nuisance.”

Timico’s CTO experienced a wide range of different speeds. At McDonalds (Kings Cross) Davies recorded a download speed of 13Mbps (540Kbps uploads), which grew to 15.5-25Mbps while roaming “around town on the top deck of a number 25 bus“. The service then appeared to peak in a pub called the Devonshire Arms (Duke Street) where he recorded 40Mbps down and 23Mbps up. These are all way above your average fixed line ADSL2+ service.

In fairness this is a trial, which initially involves around 1,000 users (e.g. existing customers and selected small businesses). As a result Trefor’s report is by no means a true reflection of final service performance because the eventual product will place a significantly higher demand upon available capacity, slowing performance. Still, it’s hard not to be impressed, especially when Davies says that he was able to stream four BBC iPlayer daytime TV streams at the same time.

O2 is expected to spend around £500m this year on network upgrades, though the first 800MHz and 2.6GHz based “4G” services won’t actually launch until late 2013 at the earliest. Ofcom’s related auction is expected to begin in Q4-2012, assuming it isn’t delayed.. again.

Mark-Jackson
By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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