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EE UK Launch Next Gen 4G Mobile Broadband with 90Mbps Average Speeds

Thursday, October 30th, 2014 (7:31 am) - Score 1,546
superfast 4gee

As predicted by ISPreview.co.uk earlier this month (here), mobile operator EE has today officially launched their new next generation 4G+ network upgrade (LTE-Advanced), which can theoretically support Internet download speeds of up to 300Mbps and claims it will deliver average speeds of up to 90Mbps (Megabits per second).

The new LTE-A service has been in trial around East London’s Tech City area since the end of 2013 (here) and from today this coverage is being expanded to a further 150 sites around the capital city (including Shoreditch, Old Street, Southbank, Soho, Westminster and Kensington), with 300 more to follow over the next few months.

Going forwards it’s anticipated that EE’s new network upgrade will eventually cover the whole of London come June 2015 and by then it will also have started rolling out the new service to Birmingham, Liverpool and Manchester.

The primary reason for LTE-A’s ability to effectively double the top (shared capacity) performance of EE’s network in upgraded areas is due to the technology’s support for Carrier Aggregation mode, which allows EE to combine 20MHz of their existing 1800MHz radio spectrum band and 20MHz of the latest 2.6GHz band.

Fotis Karonis, CTO of EE, said:

We’re building a network for the future. We’re making sure that there is enough speed, enabled by enough capacity, to let our growing 4GEE customer base do all the amazing things that are just breaking through now – 4K video over 4G, wearable technology, and increasingly sophisticated mobile business apps. Capacity is the lifeblood of a good mobile service, and we’re adding more here to give our customers the best possible mobile experience, now and into the future.”

This technology delivers significantly faster speeds than the current approach, which only uses a single 20MHz slice of the 1800MHz band to deliver peak Internet download speeds of up to 150Mbps (LTE Category 3/4, Release 8). But even EE’s so-called “double speed” network of today is still only available in 20 UK cities or 50% of the population(currently being expanded to cover 40 cities by the end of 2014), while those outside of the chosen areas tend to receive a 4G performance similar to EE’s otherwise slower rivals (averages of 15-20Mbps are common).

But mobile technology, shared capacity and signal strength remain highly variable and thus many people in even LTE-A upgraded areas are perhaps unlikely to actually receive even the average of “up to 90Mbps” (Megabits per second). On top of that most people still own devices (e.g. 4G Smarphones, Tablets etc.) that cannot support the latest LTE-A service, which means they won’t receive a benefit from EE’s upgrade (until they buy newer kit like a Samsung Galaxy S5 or Note 4 etc.).

Never the less it’s difficult not to ignore the fact that EE’s prediction of ‘up to’ 90Mbps performance on LTE-A in upgraded areas is significantly above the average speeds of both BT’s fixed line FTTC and Virgin Media’s cable networks, which according to Ofcom deliver similar averages of around 42-43Mbps (although Virgin Media’s top speed is 152Mbps, while BT’s FTTC can only pump out 80Mbps). On top of that EE’s network will now also be able to go faster than London’s recently launched fixed wireless ISP Relish.

Naturally EE’s rivals aren’t standing still and Vodafone has already put their own LTE-A upgrade live (here), which they’re separately calling 4.5G (compared with EE’s decision to describe LTE-A as 4G+). Meanwhile O2, which shares some of their network with Vodafone, are working to launch a similar upgrade. Sadly we have no idea what Three UK’s plans are but they’ll probably follow.. eventually.

Separately EE’s vanilla 4G network has today also gone live in Alexandria, Banbury, Biggleswade, Blaydon, Catterick Garrison, Cookstown, Garforth, Greenock, Holmfirth, Limavady, Maltby, Oxted, Penicuik, Tring, Waltham Cross, Warminster, Warwick, Winterbourne and Ystrad Mynach.

Going forward EE are already looking to push their top LTE-A 4G+ speeds all the way up to 400Mbps (here). Now if only EE could just deliver better data allowances so that consumers could make full use of all this new performance.

Leave a Comment
8 Responses
  1. Avatar DanielM

    4G+? you meen true 4G

    • Yeah pretty much Daniel, it’s the usual marketing pizzazz being added to try and make something look different or special. But as you correctly say, LTE-A is really where true “4G” starts.

  2. Avatar Andy

    All we need now is the capacity for them to offer decent data caps (or no data caps!)

    • Avatar DTMark

      That’s basically never going to happen with LTE.

      I think our area has “double speed” upstream but not downstream, which would explain why we always see 23+ down and almost always around 48 up.

      If such a scenario is possible.

    • Avatar DanielM

      Sounds like you’re area is using Microwave backhaul DTMark thats why the upload is miles faster

  3. if there isn’t the capacity at times do you get downgraded to a lesser connection? (edge hsdpa etc.)

    I find that the 4g connection is down quite a bit in my area, and end up getting a lesser connection sometimes. this would be around peak time evening 6-7pm

    • Avatar DTMark

      Have used 3G and 4G for years.

      Three’s 3G just slows down. Stays as DC-HSPA (HSPA+) but just runs slower. Has a curious drop-out issue round here which may or may not be related to congestion (I don’t think that it is).

      EE’s 4G presumably just stays on 4G and slows down too. I have seen below 23 Meg down literally once or twice, and only 37 Meg up the other day briefly. My router is locked to 4G, so it would actually go offline were 4G not available, it will not degrade to 3G.

      But then it doesn’t slow down here much presumably because there is little contention as it is a rural area.

  4. Avatar Michael

    Irish culture lingo, “Gee” is slang for the female reproductive organ

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