Mobile operator EE has announced that it is “accelerating” the roll-out of their new 4G+ (LTE-Advanced Category 6) based Mobile Broadband tech around London, which can in some areas deliver peak download speeds of 146Mbps; although average speeds will be a fair bit lower.
At present 4G+ (4GEE Extra) is already available in London and the “busiest parts” of EE’s network in Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool, Newcastle, Glasgow, Nottingham, Leeds, Leicester, Oxford, Newcastle and Bristol. Apparently the busiest 4G+ sites in London are in Victoria, Kings Cross/Euston, and Paddington.
However the operator doesn’t clarify precisely what they mean by “accelerating” (i.e. how does this compare to the current roll-out pace?).
Fotis Karonis, EE’ CTO, said:
“We’ve built our network with lots of capacity because we knew that video was growing at a phenomenal rate and customers need a fast connection when they’re downloading large video files to their phones. We already have 4G coverage for 93% of the population across the UK and that has made us number one for mobile data, complementing our industry leading reliability and voice performance.
Now with more 4G+ sites giving double the capacity in the busiest areas, we’re getting even faster for our customers, and that extra capacity means improved reliability for everything you do on your phone.”
The press release also includes a few choice statistics, such as how customers with 4G+ devices on EE have downloaded more than double the amount of data in 2015 than they did on average in 2014 and the average 4G+ device owner (e.g. those with a Samsung Galaxy S6 or HTC One M9 etc.) downloads 4GB of data per month. In addition, nearly 60% of data used on 4G+ smartphones is video content.
It’s worth pointing out that LTE-Advanced technology also supports Carrier Aggregation, which for example allows EE to combine 20MHz of their existing 1800MHz radio spectrum band and 20MHz of the latest 2.6GHz band or even a smaller slice of the 800MHz band (more spectrum at the same time = faster speeds). Vodafone is also deploying similar tech.
The technology has already demonstrated speeds of up to 300Mbps in parts of London and a test conducted at Wembley Stadium earlier this year even pushed into the magical 400Mbps territory (here), although as usual the real-world reality of mobile connectivity means that most consumers will usually experience a lot less.
Meanwhile EE are continuing in their quest to roll-out standard 4G services to reach 98% of the population by the end of 2015 and with 93% now done they’re getting close to achieving that goal. EE’s rivals are likely to reach a similar point, albeit not for another year due to EE’s head-start by using their existing 1800MHz band (rivals had to wait for 800MHz and 2.6GHz to be auctioned).