Mobile phone operators and equipment manufacturers have teamed up to test high-speed LTE (Long-Term Evolution) technology in order to dominate next-generation wireless networks.

The big European operators T-Mobile International, Orange and Vodafone have joined forces with vendors Alcatel-Lucent, Nokia Siemens Networks, Nortel Networks and Ericsson to test the technology. Cellular LTE and wireless WiMax are jostling to dominate the emerging market for 4G (fourth-generation) networking services.

The LTE trial, which will begin later this month, will test mobile broadband peak data rates of more than 100Mbit/s. The high data speeds will be achieved through LTE radio systems that use radio spectrum more efficiently than current systems and through advanced multi-antenna technologies.

On Wednesday, Nokia Siemens demonstrated the use of Virtual Multiple Input Multiple Output (MIMO) technology in LTE networks. MIMO, an antenna technology already being used in Wi-Fi networks, combines multiple antennas at each end of the communications circuit to minimise errors and optimise data speeds, without requiring additional bandwidth or transmission power.

Participants in the LTE initiative plan to use the results of the tests in their ongoing LTE product and service development and contribute to standardisation efforts. They also intend to work closely with the Next Generation Mobile Networks (NGNM) initiative, established by a group of GSM operators seeking a business model their current beyond 3G (third-generation) services.

Commercial LTE service is planned for 2009 or 2010.