Deutsche Telekom to Trial LTE This Year

LONDON -- Open Mobile Summit -- Deutsche Telekom AG (NYSE: DT) plans to launch a friendly user trial of Long Term Evolution (LTE) in its newly acquired 800MHz spectrum in Germany by the end of this year.

According to the Deutsche Telekom's CTO Olivier Baujard, who spoke with Light Reading Mobile on the sidelines of the Open Mobile Summit in London, the operator will have its "first coverage, first terminals, and friendly users by the end of this year," for LTE and start further network rollout next year.

The German operator's first LTE efforts will target regions in Germany that do not have access to broadband. Why? Because it has to. There are coverage obligations attached to the 800MHz licenses that all of the new license holders are required to meet. (See V'fone Germany to Test LTE for Rural Broadband and German Spectrum Auction: Day 21 .)

Baujard refers to these areas as "white spots" and says that they account for about 4 percent to 5 percent of German households. The operators with 800MHz spectrum -- Deutsche Telekom AG (NYSE: DT), Telefónica O2 Germany GmbH & Co. OHG , and Vodafone Germany -- cannot build out networks in this spectrum anywhere else until they have collectively covered 90 percent of these underserved broadband areas.

"We have to first offer this broadband connectivity in white spots," says Baujard. "[The coverage] starts in smaller cities, then goes closer to the larger cities."

The 800MHz spectrum comprised the most valuable frequencies in the German spectrum auction that ended last week. The auction raised a total of €4.4 billion (US$5.4 billion), of which €3.6 billion ($4.4 billion) was spent on the 800MHz frequency band. (See German Spectrum Auction Ends, Raises €4.4B.)

"From our discussions with operators across Europe, it's clear that many see 800MHz as a key band in which to deploy LTE," says Gabriel Brown, senior analyst at Heavy Reading. "It's about getting broad coverage relatively quickly and at lower cost than with 2.6GHz. This is very similar to the 700MHz band in the US, which was termed beachfront property because of its high value."

— Michelle Donegan, European Editor, Light Reading Mobile

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