Virgin Media mulling expansion of 4G trial

Friday, February 24th 2012
More 4G trials could be carried out by Virgin Media over the coming months.
Virgin Media mulling expansion of 4G trial
Virgin Media is planning to expand its trials of super-fast 4G mobile broadband technology over the coming months, wireless access networks provider Airspan Networks has revealed.

The cable company, which conducted an initial trial of the technology in London late last year, has teamed up with Airspan to test a small cell Long Term Evolution (LTE) broadband solution in a bid to demonstrate its effectiveness in urban areas.

Airspan's AirSynergy pico eNodeB LTE base station product is being used in the pilot scheme. The solution allows mobile broadband coverage to be directed based on customer demand, meaning networks can operate to maximum efficiency.

By taking this tailored approach, Virgin Media would be able to create radio access networks with very high capacity that could be used by mobile carriers to meet the "explosive growth" in demand for high-speed mobile broadband, Airspan explained.

Last year's trial saw Virgin Media carry out a private test of the technology required to deploy 4G services in Oxford Street, taking advantage of spectrum borrowed from telecoms industry regulator Ofcom.

The move led to speculation that the telecoms firm could be planning to bid for 4G spectrum when the auction of newly freed-up airwaves takes place at the end of 2012.

Speaking at the time, director of wireless at Virgin Media Kevin Baughan said the wireless solution fits "so well" with the company's fibre optic broadband network, which covers the majority of cities across the UK.

"We are interested in working with Wi-Fi as well as licensed spectrum. It provides capacity to where people need it the most," he told the Financial Times.

According to Mr Baughan, the trial on Oxford Street - one of the country's busiest commercial areas - highlighted the "potential benefits of a small-cell solution and plugging into our network could help offer unrivalled capacity for mobile data services".

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