Virgin Media Business has revealed that it has been carrying out trials of small cell technology in the cities of Newcastle and Bristol (above) that have delivered speeds as high as 90Mbit/s to users on the trial networks.
The firm said it undertook the trials in light of the slow progress of 4G availability in the UK, and worked with the councils in the cities to install the networks on street furniture, for both indoors and outdoor coverage.
Kevin Baughan, head of wireless at Virgin Media Business, told V3 that the firm had undertaken the trials to see if it was technically possible to provide good mobile access using small cell technology.
"We're conscious of the challenge mobile operators are facing on data demands and as we have the fibre infrastructure in place in the large metro areas, like Bristol and Newcastle, we wanted to see if it was possible to provide a small cell deployment to increase coverage and capacity," he said.
"We were pleased to see the trial was an almost complete success. In most areas the outdoor coverage worked without issue and it was only in some of the older buildings, with thick walls, that coverage struggled to penetrate."
Baughan explained Newcastle and Bristol were chosen as their councils showed an interest in letting the firm deploy equipment on their street furniture, such as lampposts, as part of their plans around the super-connected cities initiatives being pushed from Whitehall, covering fixed and mobile networks.
"We wrote to several of the cities involved in this project and although some were already in procurement we were delighted when Newcastle and Bristol stepped forward."
During the trial only those from VMB and other relevant partners were able to access and test the network, with speeds peaking as high as 90Mbit/s although general ranging between 20 and 50Mbit/s.
As such, it remains to be see how the technology would cope under more everyday demands from the public, but Baughan said the earlier results were encouraging.
"There's still a way to go on this technology as it requires interest from both mobile operators, to form part of their networks to provide better coverage, on both 3G and 4G speeds, and from city councils to allow us to install equipment," he explained.
"It's look encouraging - today was about announcing the success of the technology trials, the next step is to move to a commercial situation where all these organisations come together."
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