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O2 has announced it has commenced trialing the latest-generation 4G LTE network in the first-ever rollout in London.

The operator has installed 40 masts in a 40 square kilometer area in the capital, with up to 25 stations in the pipeline, for testing of the high-speed mobile on the 2.6GHz spectrum ahead of a planned nationwide launch in 2013.

“Today’s launch of the UK’s first 4G London trial network demonstrates our commitment to delivering 4G to our customers at the earliest opportunity,” said Ronan Dunne, Chief Executive Officer of Telefónica UK.

“The work we are doing now will lay the foundations for our commercial 4G network when it launches in the UK.”

At least 1,000 testers from industry partners such as O2 Arena and John Lewis, as well as readers of tech site Gizmodo, are taking part in the trial, which will last until June 2012.

O2 already has a 4G trial in Slough. BT and Orange are also conducting similar trials, with Three to follow suit shortly.

Participants are being equipped with 4G dongles, handsets and Wi-Fi hotspots, expected to provide speeds of up to 100Mbps. However, realistically users can at best hope for 30-40Mbps, which is the maximum received by 4G LTE subscribers in the US.

For the uninitiated, 4G is the fourth-generation network that succeeds the current 3G standard we already have in the UK. LTE stands for Long Term Evolution, which is one of several 4G standards currently available.

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