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EE UK Hints at 2015 Trial of 400Mbps 4G LTE-A Mobile Broadband Speeds

Wednesday, September 24th, 2014 (8:41 am) - Score 1,163

Mobile operator EE (Everything Everywhere) has quietly announced that next year’s delayed commercial launch of their new 300Mbps capable 4G (LTE-Advanced) based Mobile Broadband service will also be accompanied by another trial to push the networks top performance up to a staggering 400Mbps (Megabits per second).

At present parts of EE’s existing LTE (Long Term Evolution) based 4G infrastructure can use a single 20MHz slice of the 1800MHz radio spectrum band to deliver peak Internet download speeds of up to 150Mbps (LTE Category 3/4, Release 8) in around 20 cities, which in reality usually equates to an average of about 20-30Mbps (10Mbps uploads). Meanwhile the rest of the UK can expect the best performance of their network to be roughly half that.

But EE have also been conducting trials of LTE-Advanced (LTE-A) technology with carrier aggregation, which can deliver speeds of up to 300Mbps by bringing together both 20MHz of their existing 1800MHz radio spectrum band and 20MHz of the latest 2.6GHz band. As usual the figure of 300Mbps is one that would need to be shared between other users, which means average speeds will be much lower but still better than today; assuming you own hardware that can make use of it (currently most do not).

The 300Mbps service was originally due to launch this year, but ISPreview.co.uk revealed at the end of spring that it would in fact now be delayed until 2015 (here). But this hasn’t stopped EE looking at going even faster and today a new update, which concerns EE’s 6 year partnership with the Wembley stadium, has revealed how 2015 will also see trials of an ever faster service that can deliver 400Mbps.

Fotis Karonis, CTO of EE, said:

Since we announced this historic partnership six months ago, customers using the network at Wembley have already uploaded the equivalent of 850,000 selfies, and streamed 400,000 goal replays. We’ve added enough capacity to connect every visitor that walks through the gates, and we’re continuing to invest – more 3G, more 4G, Superfast WiFi and the capability to launch a multi-operator 4G service, supporting all the networks, means everyone with a smartphone can be connected at Wembley.

This partnership has a very clear vision – we want Wembley to be the world’s best connected stadium, showing off new technologies first and giving two million visitors a year the best possible Wembley experience.”

It’s obviously too early to talk about pricing and expected coverage for the 400Mbps solution, although we anticipate that their next 300Mbps product will eventually deploy to the same twenty “double speed” cities as can already benefit from the top performance of their 4G network (starting with London, Birmingham and Manchester). It’s hoped that the 300Mbps solution will be delivered at no extra cost to customers and the 400Mbps service is likely to follow that trend.

But as ever the biggest barrier is likely to be the lack of supporting hardware and perhaps also battery life. Come this time next year the hardware problem will be less of a concern and EE are clearly keen to maintain their technological lead over rivals, such as Three UK, O2 and Vodafone that are still playing catch-up.

UPDATE 8:59am

A spokesperson for EE has informed ISPreview.co.uk that in order to deliver 400Mbps speeds the operator will need to add another 15MHz of 2.6GHz spectrum. The trial/demo of this service will also take place during the first half of 2015.

Leave a Comment
11 Responses
  1. Avatar Stephen says:

    I wonder why EE haven’t updated their double speed city counts for a while. I know at least 2 other citys (Aberdeen & Dundee) are now showing as being double speed and I’m sure there must be many more throughout the UK. I would have thought they would like to tell people as soon as it becomes available, not keep it quiet for months afterwards. Very strange!

  2. Avatar MrWhite says:

    These headline speeds are great, but who will make use of them? With the top package giving just 20GB of data, that would be eaten up in a heartbeat. And can a single device really make use of all that bandwidth?

    1. Mark Jackson Mark Jackson says:

      Probably not but then you have to remember this capacity gets shared, so for end-users it’s the improvement in slower average speeds that matters most. You’re unlikely to ever get the 400Mbps peak or even close to that.

      Agree on the issue of data caps.

  3. Avatar Hull_lad says:

    Speed means nothing unless the data caps are reasonable. It’s like giving someone a Bugatti Veyron (and given the pricing of decent 4G data caps, you may as well actually do this), telling them there’s no speed limit, and then handing them a thimble full of petrol.

  4. Avatar Bob Evans says:

    Wireless is a shared medium with very limited bandwidth. It is highly unlikely to actually deliver 400MBs as it could only support a handful of users at those speeds. There is more hype to Wireless Broadband then substance.

  5. Avatar Tim says:

    EE have such a massive lead on 4G already. I’m not sure the other networks can/will catch up. If EE had better prices with higher data allowances I’d jump ship from Three. Although not until 4G is actually available where I am and maybe not if VoLTE still isn’t supported.

  6. Avatar dave says:

    If they offered their 4G with a 100GB data allowance at £30/month lots of people with adsl would switch. Until then 4G is a bit of a gimmick, you can only really notice on download speeds of large apps when using a mobile device.

  7. Avatar adslmax says:

    4G EE is pointless because the data cap are awful quite low. The fastest speed will get 20GB in a matter of hour!

  8. Avatar Matthew Williams says:

    Plus I don’t know any commercial devices that would support 400Mbps, the 300Mbps stuff hasn’t properly come out yet.

  9. Avatar Bob says:

    The whole “limited bandwidth” argument is bogus.

    There is no excuse, other than financial for not allowing unlimited off-peak usage or at least a considerable amount more.

    1. Avatar DTMark says:

      I suspect part of the problem is that the alternative – fixed line – is so weak – that if this were done, people would cancel their fixed lines and go “all mobile” as we did years ago.

      At which point the provider then has an endless game of catch-up to play installing more and more cells to supply ever more bandwidth for little or no extra revenue. Three did this, and withdrew from it in the end, though I suspect it did a lot to market and position the company at the time.

      The providers would love all the customers – for people to say naturally pick 3G or 4G over ADSL or VDSL as the better suited and more performant of the two where that is the case, but not the cost of dealing with all the complaints which would then spring forth.

      I’m interested to see how “Relish” performs in London and if the speeds users are seeing (IIRC in the region of 20 to 30 down) remain the same a year on.

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