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Arqiva trials LTE broadband in Wales

Radio spectrum freed up thanks to digital switchover

Residents in Pembrokeshire, Wales are being given 'up to' 50Mbps broadband in a trial of using a service that uses the radio spectrum freed up thanks to the digital switchover.

The trial of the technology, which is also known as Long-term Evolution (LTE) or 4G, is being run jointly by Arqiva and Alcatel-Lucent and utilises the 800MHz band, which is currently being used for terrestrial TV broadcasts. However, in the Preseli area of Pembrokeshire, all of the homes have already switched to digital meaning the spectrum can now be re-assigned.

The small, sparsely-populated villages of the area are typical of many rural areas around the UK currently without high-speed broadband connections. Providing these rural areas with superfast access to the web is causing the biggest problem when it comes to fulfilling the government's plans to provide every Brit with 2Mbps internet access by 2015, in a bid to create the "best superfast broadband network in Europe".

A small antenna or box must be installed on a windowsill in homes to receive the signal. Devices with Wi-Fi can then be connected to the antenna or box to offer access to the web.

Steve Holebrook from Arqiva said: "We firmly believe that the combination of LTE technology, the 800MHz spectrum and a neutral-host commercial model is the best way of providing rural communities with broadband quickly, efficiently, and cost-effectively".

If the trial, which is the first-time the company has tested the technology, proves successful, Arqiva plans to make the network available to as man ISPs as possible, ensuring home and business in the area have a wide choice of service providers.

See also: 4G LTE services won't start till 2014

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