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EE UK Begin Wembley Stadium Test of 400Mbps 4G+ Mobile Speeds

Friday, February 27th, 2015 (9:22 am) - Score 1,429
ee_lte_a_4g_400mbps_test

Mobile operator EE, which could shortly become a part of the BT Group, has announced that their long planned trial of ultrafast 400Mbps capable 4G LTE-Advanced (LTE-A) based Mobile Broadband technology with Qualcomm and Huawei, which they’ve dubbed 4G+, will next month go live at Wembley Stadium in London.

At present the best performance on EE’s network can usually be found in parts of Birmingham, Liverpool and Manchester, which is where they’re deploying a 300Mbps capable (average speeds of around 90Mbps) 4G service (here). The new 400Mbps based 4G+ solution uses many of the same methods as their 300Mbps service, albeit with a few upgrades.

The most important feature of these new technologies stem from the upgrade to LTE-A and its Carrier Aggregation mode, which allows EE to combine 20MHz of their existing 1800MHz radio spectrum band and 20MHz of the 2.6GHz band in order to effectively double the network performance (assuming you own hardware that can make use of this).

Apparently the Wembley test is using Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 810 CAT 9 (LTE Category 9) processor to combine three different EE spectrum bands, which is a CPU that can be found in some of the most recent Smartphones and Mobile Broadband modems.

All of this work forms part of EE’s commitment to invest £1.5bn into its network over the next three years, which among other things means that their “double speed” 4G will reach 90% of the population by 2017. The “high capacity 4G+” service will also be enabled in 20 of the busiest UK cities by 2017.

Fotis Karonis, CTO of EE, said:

We have established ourselves as the most advanced and innovative network in Europe, and we will continue to stay ahead of the curve, in terms of both speed and capacity. Smarter devices with more data intensive video and audio demands are launching all the time, and it’s trials like these at Wembley Stadium that allow us to ensure EE customers continue to get the very best experiences from their mobile network now and in the future. This is a showcase of what a truly amazing 4G network can do, and is a big step in our ambition to make Wembley Stadium the most connected stadium in the world.”

Like other operators EE has also committed to ensure that their mobile voice and 4G data coverage reaches 90% of the United Kingdom’s geography (landmass), which is on top of the 98% population coverage that is due to be achieved by the end of 2015. At the same time it’s worth remembering that Vodafone and the other operators will also be investing in LTE-A upgrades.

The elephant in the room of all this wondrous speed is of course that mobile data is more expensive than on fixed line broadband connections, which means that most of the operator’s packages come with capped data allowances; a 400Mbps service would gobble that like a hot knife through butter.

As a result mobile struggles to compete with the flexibility of fixed lines, although as data demands rise then operators may need to consider bigger allowances. The merged BT and EE may in future be able to combine their strengths on this and boost flexibility, or perhaps lower costs.

UPDATE 11:05am

Our eagle eyed readers have spotted that the PR image provided with the test (pictured above) references the speed as MBPS, which as IT folk know translates to MegaBytes Per Second rather than Megabits per second (Mbps). Oops.

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Mark Jackson
By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
Leave a Comment
5 Responses
  1. Avatar Tim

    So with a full stadium and the fact that most will not have LTE-A phones what will performance really be like?

    • Avatar DTMark

      The capacity of Wembley Stadium is 90,000 (apparently)

      If one in ten people wants to upload * at the same time, that’s 9,000 concurrent connections.

      400/9000 = 0.04Mbps.

      I think..

      * Making the assumption that the bulk of data demand will be on the upstream e.g. people attempting to stream the game to their mates.

  2. Avatar sentup.custard

    Well, certainly not anything like as fast as the picture suggests – some marketing halfwit doesn’t know the difference between Mb and MB.

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