LTE wireless technology passes moving car test

The logo of Deutsche Telekom AG headquarters is pictured before the annual news conference in Bonn February 28, 2008. REUTERS/Ina Fassbender

BONN, Germany (Reuters) - Mobile operator T-Mobile and Nortel Networks NT.TO have successfully tested a new high-speed wireless technology designed to make mobile connections as fast as fixed fiber links, T-Mobile said.

A connection was maintained while driving in a car in range of three cell sites on a highway in Bonn, Germany at an average speed of 67 kph, T-Mobile, the wireless business of Deutsche Telekom DTEGn.DE, said on Thursday.

The experiment achieved data rates of up to 170 Mbit/s for downloads and up to 50 Mbit/s for uploads, the operator said, about three times faster than the new high-speed broadband technology VDSL it is currently rolling out across the country.

If the Long-Term Evolution (LTE) technology proved promising in more everyday situations, the Bonn-based company would consider upgrading its network with it, said Philipp Humm, head of T-Mobile Germany. A decision would be made within six months.

There is increasing urgency for fourth-generation (4G) wireless networks, where growing demand for mobile data is driven by such tools as smartphones and embedded laptops.

The industry has not settled on a standard for 4G networks, with some operators and developers lining up behind Sprint Nextel Corp's S.N WiMax technology and others promoting the LTE system.

Hamid Akhavan, head of T-Mobile, which operates in 12 countries, said in February LTE appears to be the most promising prospect for future networks but he was not willing to commit to the technology until it proved itself.

“There’s still quite a few issues to be resolved,” Akhavan told Reuters then. “In a best case scenario, some of our markets may be demonstrating LTE in 2010.”

Canada’s Nortel Networks has said it sees LTE as the most likely upgrade path for about 80 percent of the world’s existing mobile phone providers, with others going for WiMax.

Reporting by Nicola Leske