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UK's first 4G live trial starts, in Cornwall

Everything Everywhere and BT Wholesale have started the UK's first 4G live trial, with 200 lucky punters getting super-fast broadband.

If you live in Cornwall, it's not just the unseasonably good weather giving you reason to smile of late, for the region is also the site of the UK's first 4G live trial, with real people testing super-fast broadband speeds. Now, anyone got a spare room down there?

Everything Everywhere and BT Wholesale have started the trial, supplying 200 customers in St Newlyn East and the surrounding South Newquay area with a tech called LTE,which stands for long-term evolution. And considering the area at present has little or no broadband, as well as the fact that Ofcom announced just this afternoon that the UK-wide 4G rollout will be delayed, those lucky guinea pigs are in for quite a treat...

It's the world's first test of LTE that can be deployed to both mobile and fixed-line customers, meaning they're getting ridiculously quick Internet speeds in their homes as well as on their smart phones.

LTE is capable of download speeds between 150-160Mbps -- although that's a theoretical maximum and it's highly unlikely anyone will actually achieve it. Experts predict actual speeds will be between 5-10Mbps for mobile phones, which is still mighty impressive.

There are 100 people trialling LTE on mobile, and another 100 on home broadband, all within an area of 25 square kilometres. The trial will use 10MHz of the 800MHz spectrum. Now, the bad news.

It's not the UK's first taste of LTE, with previous tests in Wales and Slough. It is the first to put the technology in the hands of normal punters, however, and as such is a major step forward to the rest of us finally having much better mobile broadband.

Ofcom has just admitted that the 4G spectrum auction won't take place until the end of 2012, The Register reports. The organisation is going to do another round of consultation before aiming to get the auctions happening towards the end of next year, according to a press release -- so the rest of us have a while to wait yet.

It's likely that the spectrum won't be available for commercial use until 2013, but realistically we won't see it up and running until at least the year after, as the companies will all have to plan their infrastructure and raise the funds. Currently 4G is in use in some Scandinavian countries and in the US. Those folk in Cornwall don't know how lucky they are.