O2 Germany Preps LTE Event

Telefónica O2 Germany GmbH & Co. OHG is expected to announce some big Long Term Evolution (LTE) news at a press event Thursday (Dec. 16).

The operator is likely to reveal when, where, and how it will launch commercial LTE services next year, as well as how much it will charge for those services. By doing so it will catch up with its larger rivals Deutsche Telekom AG (NYSE: DT) and Vodafone Germany , which have already published their LTE service launch plans. (See Vodafone Beats Deutsche Telekom to LTE Launch.)

O2 Germany started a six-month friendly user trial this month with hundreds of users in the cities of Halle and Munich as well as in rural areas near those cities. Using network equipment from Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. and Nokia Networks , O2 has said that it plans to roll out its LTE network to 1,500 locations and launch commercial services in 2011. (See O2 Germany Preps LTE Pilots.)

The operator is expected to flesh out the details of the service launch tomorrow, including which devices it will offer and which spectrum it will use in the initial deployment.

Why this matters
O2 is the interesting one to watch in the German LTE market, so the announcement expected tomorrow is eagerly anticipated. As the third-largest operator in Germany, O2 has an opportunity to use LTE as a differentiator to close the gap on its larger rivals.

The clue that O2 might be looking to immediately use LTE as a major weapon in its services arsenal lies in its decision to use 2.6GHz as well as 800MHz spectrum in its first LTE trials. While Deutsche Telekom and Vodafone have focused mainly on using 800MHz spectrum to cover rural areas in their initial LTE efforts -- as per the 800MHz license obligations -- O2 has tested tested the technology in 2.6GHz spectrum in urban areas, as well as testing services in the 800MHz band for its rural trials. This suggests the operator is keen to boost its mobile broadband network with LTE in big cities to offer faster mobile data services, while at the same time rolling out LTE to rural areas to meet its 800MHz license requirement. (See German Spectrum Auction Ends, Raises €4.4B.)

For more
Before O2's big event, here's a recap of the latest LTE news from Germany:

— Michelle Donegan, European Editor, Light Reading Mobile

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