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EE Delay UK 300Mbps 4G LTE-A Mobile Broadband Service Launch to 2015

Monday, June 30th, 2014 (1:09 am) - Score 2,763

Mobile operator EE (4GEE) has informed ISPreview.co.uk that they “don’t expect” to be making their new 300Mbps 4G (LTE-Advanced) based Mobile Broadband service commercially available in 2014 as originally planned, although a good amount of central London will be covered as part of the on-going trials and download speeds of “well over” 100Mbps are being recorded.

The current trial, which is taking place in East London’s Tech City area, began last November 2013 (here) and is making use of the latest LTE-Advanced (Long Term Evolution) technology with carrier aggregation, which delivers significantly faster speeds by bring together both 20MHz of their existing 1800MHz radio spectrum band and 20MHz of the latest 2.6GHz band.

At present most of EE’s existing LTE based 4G infrastructure uses a single 20MHz slice of the 1800MHz radio spectrum band to deliver peak Internet download speeds of up to 150Mbps (aka – Category 3/4, Release 8), which in reality usually equates to average download speeds of around 20-30Mbps (10Mbps uploads). But the 300Mbps service brings us more into the realm of Category 6 (Release 10) performance and is being tested with a compatible WiFi router from Huawei, which supports up to 20 end-users via the 802.11ac standard.

Unfortunately we’ll have to wait a little longer before the service leaves its trial stage. EE originally suggested that their 300Mbps LTE-A service would become “commercially available when compatible devices launch from mid-2014“, although a spokesperson has now informed us that “we don’t expect to be making it commercially available in 2014“. Thankfully we do have some new details to share about the trial itself and their future plans.

An EE Spokesperson told ISPreview.co.uk:

Where we have the network currently live – in the Tech City area of London – the performance is outstanding. The Carrier Aggregation network is giving speeds well over 100Mbps in the wild, and there’s a second benefit – smartphone owners that have 2600MHz radios are connecting to that layer, and freeing up more spectrum for those with only 1800MHz (like the original iPhone 5) to be even faster on the 1800MHz layer. Carrier Aggregation doubles speeds for users with the right device (CAT6 – coming soon), and increases capacity – hence speed – for everyone else.

The rollout is ongoing, and we’ll announce more towards the end of the year, but we don’t expect to be making it commercially available in 2014, though a good amount of central London will be covered.”

The operator told us that their next target for deployment after London (due to complete by around mid-2015) will be in the “busiest urban zones” of Birmingham and Manchester. But EE refused to be drawn on whether or not Samsung’s new “Broadband LTE-A” variant of the popular Galaxy S5 Smartphone would accompany the eventual commercial launch in 2015 (note: there aren’t many other LTE-A handsets for the EU/UK).

In terms of price, EE’s existing “double speed” (up to 150Mbps) boost comes at no extra cost, although the operator wouldn’t confirm commercial details at this time. However EE also said, “we hope that customers [who] buy the first CAT6 devices that we range will be able to access the Carrier Aggregation network at no extra cost, and be experiencing one of the fastest networks anywhere in the world” (note: any LTE-A devices with support for the UK bands should also work – not just EE’s own).

EE are continuing to extract all of the benefits they can from being the first major national mobile operator to market with 4G, although their rivals (O2, Vodafone and Three UK) have already said that they also intend to go down the LTE-Advanced route.

Leave a Comment
3 Responses
  1. Mobile broadband faster in urban areas than the fixed-line broadband available.

    It’s not the end of fixed line, just shows what a complete mess BT’s fixed line deployment is/was.

    • Avatar DTMark

      I spoke to EE a couple of months ago and the person appeared to know what they were talking about – I asked when EE 4G Home would be available in this area and after checking, the answer was “a few months”. So that’s changed.

      I think it just shows how utterly pitiable copper and aluminium phone lines are as broadband conduits. Without fibre-optic or coax with amplifier boxes on every street corner, 5G could be the best we can hope for, hopefully that will progress at some pace now.

      Though there’s a bit of a difference between seeing a true 100Meg in testing and live when launched. If I drove to the nearest transmitter and magically put a Faraday cage round it and stood inside it, I’ll bet I’d see the top speeds possible.

      That said, we were seeing a true 20 Meg symmetric service from EE until it broke round here three weeks ago – waiting for fault diagnosis on dongle.

  2. Avatar Hull_lad

    You can offer the fastest mobile broadband speeds in the world, but until the data caps and pricing are more in line with what the average household is using (Ofcom’s last infrastructure report suggested it was around about 30GB per month) then fixed broadband will always be the ‘defacto’ means of access. Anyone that keeps an eye on Cisco’s VNI (or any data forecasts, really) knows that data usage per capita/household will continue to sky rocket, and mobile operators simply can’t afford to offer data plans that compete with fixed equivalents.

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