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EE Start Roll-out of 400Mbps 4G+ Mobile Broadband to Big UK Cities

Tuesday, Jun 6th, 2017 (1:55 pm) - Score 4,682

Forget about future 5G for today. Mobile operator EE has begun the process of deploying their latest 4G+ (LTE-Advanced) network upgrade to several cities across the United Kingdom, which have already demonstrated live download speeds of up to 429Mbps (66.4Mbps upload).

In fairness the operator has achieved similar speeds before, with their 2015 test at Wembley Stadium delivering a peak of 403Mbps (here). At the time EE was harnessing Carrier Aggregation and Category 9 technology from Qualcomm in order to combine 20MHz of radio spectrum in the existing 1800MHz band with 20MHz from the 2.6GHz band.

By comparison the new upgrade uses the latest Category 16 specification, which can combine radio spectrum from up to three different bands (in this case 30MHz of 1800MHz and 35MHz of 2.6GHz) and also benefits from other improvements like 4×4 MIMO (sends and receives four signals instead of just two), 10 spatial streams and 256 QAM (Quadrature Amplitude Modulation) for better efficiency of the spectrum.

In theory Cat-16 could support a maximum throughput of up to 1Gbps (Gigabits per second), although in practice such real-world speeds are usually limited by the capabilities of the hardware being used and the fact this capacity has to be shared between many users.

The latest test also made use of Sony’s Xperia XZ Premium, which is currently the one of the very few Smartphones in the UK to support Cat-16 technology.

Marc Allera, CEO of EE, said:

“Sony has raised the bar in smartphone speeds, and we’re investing and innovating to match that and give our customers the fastest network speeds in the UK. What we’ve demonstrated live in Cardiff is more than ten times the average mobile download speed. We’re rolling out this new capability in Cardiff and London’s Tech City, and we’ll keep expanding to the busiest areas of the UK so that our customers always have a great connection to do the things they love.”

The first two cities to benefit from this upgrade are Cardiff and London, while the roll-out for Birmingham, Manchester and Edinburgh should begin before the end of 2017. However operator’s need a dense infrastructure with lots of available spectrum in order to make the most of 4G+ and so this is something that will probably remain the preserve of big cities for a long time to come.

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 X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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