Telefonica yesterday announced plans to trial LTE technology in six countries across Europe and Latin America, as the operator giant mulls its commercial next-generation network plans. The chosen countries are Argentina, Brazil, Germany, Spain, the Czech Republic and the UK, whilst the six vendors picked for the trials are Alcatel-Lucent, Ericsson, Huawei, NEC, Nokia Siemens Networks and ZTE. In a statement, Telefonica noted that those names are the vendors “chosen so far” and the project is open to other suppliers. It is not known which vendors will trial their kit in specific countries. The trials will take place over six months and consist of laboratory tests, field tests and the installation of e-node Bs (base stations).
Telefonica boasts over 264 million customers worldwide. The move gives a boost to LTE development in Europe and Latin America, as much initial high-profile LTE activity has taken place in the US and Japan (via Verizon Wireless and NTT Docomo, respectively). Telefonica is keen to stress that it has not confirmed commercial launch details of its next-generation network strategy, but did note in the statement that the trials are being undertaken “with the view to rolling out fourth-generation networks in the different regions where the company operates.” It warns that “the implementation of LTE will be subject to the availability of equipment to customers (datacards and later on, telephones) and the spectrum required to be able to provide services with this new technology.”