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Virgin Media to Trial 4G Mobile Broadband in Several UK Cities via 2.6GHz

Posted: 24th Feb, 2012 By: MarkJ
mobile broadbandvirgin media uk broadband upload speed p2p traffic managementCable provider Virgin Media is reportedly planning to launch a serious trial of 4G ( LTE ) superfast Mobile Broadband technology in several cities by using the soon-to-be-auctioned (Q4-2012) 2.6GHz spectrum band.

The Register claims that their plans follow a single-cell trial (using Airspan / Picochip base stations), which the operator is said to have conducted last December 2011 in Oxford Street (London).

This is probably what caused so much confusion last year after Virgin revealed that they had been toying with LTE based femtocell devices (normally used to boost indoor coverage via fixed line broadband connectivity) for home use (here).

Virgin Media's spokesman told ISPreview.co.uk (December 2011):

"People are increasingly connecting more devices wirelessly to the internet so it is important this doesn't become a capacity bottleneck in future. In order to maximise the value of what is limited spectrum, short range low powered frequencies could be used to ensure localised areas of high demand are satisfied.

These frequencies could be shared by companies beyond just the mobile network operators such that consumers will benefit most from greater innovation and a better quality wireless internet experience."

At this stage Virgin Media still hasn't made a firm decision about whether or not it will bid for a slice of the 2.6GHz spectrum in Ofcom's upcoming auction. Virgin told us last year that they're still playing with all sorts of ideas and so it would perhaps be unwise to make a prediction, although the trial expansion suggests that they're closing in on a decision.

On top of that Virgin Mobile is run over the T-Mobile network (Everything Everywhere), so they might not have to bid but then that would depend upon later agreements and uncertain technical restrictions. Virgin might simply choose to go their own way and deploy a different kind of data-focused 4G alternative/compliment to Wi-Fi but the viability of that is uncertain.
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