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LTE Demo Will Test Broadband for Oil Fields

Stephen Lawson | March 4, 2011
LTE is generating excitement in the world of consumer electronics and ever-faster online video viewing, but the 4G (fourth-generation) mobile network technology may have even greater implications for specific industries that lack a good means of connectivity.

The other difference is that the geographic reach of a base station is more important than densely packing base stations into an area to cover many simultaneous users. Alcatel is hoping to demonstrate its LTE base station working over a range of 20 miles, Madden said.

Alcatel said players in a number of vertical industries including health care, transportation and public safety have expressed interest in LTE. But this will be the first time Alcatel actually demonstrates LTE for an energy-sector application, Madden said.

Before it can move from tests to deployment, TEN will need radio spectrum licenses across the region. The company is now talking with several spectrum holders, Hughey said. The company plans to use paired spectrum, with one band for upstream and one for downstream traffic. It's not clear yet what spectrum TEN will be able to use, but the company would like to tap into the 700MHz band, the same range that Verizon Wireless plans to use for its LTE network, coming later this year. In general, the 700MHz band offers greater reach per cell site than higher bands.

Alcatel said it could adapt to different bands depending on where TEN gets its licenses. Alcatel wouldn't comment on how much bandwidth its equipment could deliver, saying that depends on how much spectrum TEN has.

If LTE works as expected and the frequencies are available, it will probably take between 12 and 18 months to roll out the network, TEN's Hughey estimated. The service provider hopes later to expand to other parts of the U.S. and potentially other countries.

However, the company remains focused on the oil and gas industries. If it does allow private residents of the Permian Basin to hop on to the LTE network, its service-level agreements with oil companies will have to come first, Hughey said.

"You wouldn't want somebody throwing a slingbox on there and taking bandwidth off the network," Hughey said.


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