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EE UK Test Pushes 5G Mobile Broadband Speeds to 2.2Gbps

Wednesday, April 20th, 2022 (11:05 am) - Score 7,224

Mobile operator EE (BT) today claims to have become the “first European network” to combine (Carrier Aggregation) seven different spectrum carriers via its existing 3.4GHz and new 3.6GHz channels, among others, in order to push 5G based mobile broadband speeds up to 2.2Gbps (Gigabits per second) in testing.

One of the most useful features of modern 4G and 5G networks is the ability to combine several bands or spectrum carriers to boost data speeds, as well as coverage, for consumers. Now EE, which was working alongside Qualcomm Technologies at BT’s Borehamwood lab, has taken this to the next level in their new “lab test“.

The operator was able to combine seven different spectrum carriers (i.e. a total of 170MHz of spectrum bandwidth) in order to deliver 5G data (mobile broadband) speeds topping 2.2Gbps in the lab, which is “expected” to result in “real-world speeds” of over 1.7Gbps outside the lab. A mobile test device featuring the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 Mobile Platform with Snapdragon X65 5G Modem-RF System was used to achieve the milestone.

The eagle eyed among you will quickly note that EE doesn’t actually have 170MHz of 5G specific spectrum, thus in order to reach the new total they had to include spectrum from their other 4G (LTE) focused holdings, including – 1.8GHz (2 carriers), 2.1GHz (1 carrier) and 2.6GHz (2 carriers).

David Salam, Director of Mobile at EE, said:

“Our commitment to technology investment and innovation, coupled with our leading 5G footprint, continues to see the EE network offer and sustain the best overall 5G experience in the UK. By pooling our research expertise with Qualcomm Technologies, we have been able to further enhance the EE network and will start to deliver some of Europe’s fastest 5G speeds in our major cities.”

The test offers a glimpse of what 5G may be able to achieve (at peak) in the near future, although this will still need to be supported by ample capacity from fibre optic backhaul, as well as the right kit at mast sites and supportive end-user hardware. Furthermore, it’s worth noting that Ofcom has plans to auction off even more spectrum, which means that we could see faster speeds than this before too long.

All of this should help to complement EE’s aim of growing their UK 5G coverage to reach “over half the population by early 2023“, before eventually reaching their ambition to deliver 5G connectivity solutions anywhere in the UK by 2028 – through a combination of permanent coverage (90% of the UK’s landmass) and on demand solutions.

However, it’s worth highlighting that rival operators will be able to achieve similar or faster speeds using the same approach, thus EE may not have the same dominance over 5G performance as they did with 4G before. Recent studies from both Ookla and Opensignal have both shown Three UK to be the current fastest real-world operator for 5G download speeds (here and here), at least for now.

UPDATE 12:07pm

EE has confirmed that the 2.2Gbps and 1.7Gbps figures represent download speeds. No data on upload performance has been provided.

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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.
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20 Responses
  1. James says:

    Might be worth them spending time ironing out the kinks and issues in the network first.

    EE seems to be going backwards of late.

  2. Globix says:

    Sounds good. On paper. Unfortunately in my testing I found EE to be not that impressive at 5G. In central London it was under 200mbit and the response I got from EE was hey that’s a busy area and 200mbit is great. Yeah it’s not bad, but it’s not 2gbit or anything.

    Vodafone were worse. Usually under 100mbit. I tested with multiple handsets (apple and android) as well as with an MU5001 and I tested all the networks frop Hatfield to Crawley and three came out on top for speed but certainly not for signal/5G availability. O2 well I barely saw 5G anywhere apart from train stations / large venues.

    1. Jordan says:

      Depends where you are in London, on VODAFONE i get around 500mbps download, with 20ms ping.

  3. New_Londoner says:

    In a separate 5G related development, reports from the US suggest that some manufacturers are removing support for millimetre wave 5G from their next generation of handsets to free up silicon space. The rationale appears to be that availability is very limited and performance is pretty abysmal due a combination of poor reach and lack of penetration of barriers so the silicon can be put to better use.

  4. Anuraj says:

    EE got decent 5g coverage and speed. Problem is their voice calls quality. It’s really bad and dropped calls.

    Most places same not only my post code. I travel around uk and 4g speed good as well.

    EE need to sort their voice calls. Vodafone and 02 have low band 800 & 900 mhz and voice quality is excellent.

  5. Duncan says:

    At the moment, 5G from EE here is a bit disappointing. The speeds on 4G are normally always better/faster.

  6. Sam Perry says:

    Fastest I’ve ever got was 1.5G at Broadbridge heath on 3

    1. BB says:

      I work for Three mate and I promise you that you didn’t see 1.5Gb/s, it would have been a glitch in the speed test app (very common on Speed test.net). Although our network is capable of such speeds, we’ve put a hard cap on the maximum speed at the moment whilst we upgrade our backhaul network.

    2. Chris says:

      Haha always one over achiever. Three UK cap their 5G to 1gbps and state as much.
      Even if you were sat on top of the mast there is no guarantee you would actually get 1gbps.
      For arguments sake lets say if Three didn’t have a cap and upped it to 2gbps or even the theoretical 3.6gbps its doubtful many of your devices could even handle those speeds. Most PC’s/laptops only have a gigabit card and wireless? well even using a decent Wifi 6 router and device capable of wifi 6 a single stream will still only peak around 1.2gbps (max) ….So i’m sceptical of your 1.5gbps and am inclined to agree with BB and call that a “glitched” test as stated.

      I’m happy i’ve gone from a fixed line with a max speed of 80mbps down and 20 up to 5-600+ downa dn 100+ up.

      I don’t understand why companies like EE/Three/Voda etc trying to push the speed up and up when the majority of people simply cannot make use of it with their current tech.

  7. Mike says:

    May it’s just me but the roll out of 5G seems a bit slow at the moment.

    1. Mark Jackson says:

      It effectively got delayed by the decision to ban Huawei, which meant a major replacement of existing kit needed to take place. This hurt the earliest operators to market more than the later ones, excluding O2 (didn’t use Huawei for 5G).

    2. Sam says:

      O2 were not effected and yet they have the worst 5G coverage and speeds by a large margin.

      O2 need to kick it up a gear!

    3. Sam says:

      They are slowly picking things up again. I think the switch off of 3G will help.

    4. Jason says:

      2G / 3G switch-off is unlikely to happen anytime soon – there’s too many devices out there (in particular, vehicle trackers) that still use 2G networks.

  8. Anuraj says:

    3G Swich-off will happen soon. Operators will keep 2g for voice / text and trackers etc.

    By switching off 3G operators can use spectrum for 4g or 5g. Vodafone already start 4g on 900mhz.

  9. CarlT says:

    Impressive but obviously not something that’s going to be in the field much and going by the experience of Verizon, T-Mobile and AT&T in the USA will be pretty much line of sight for range.

    Can’t defy the laws of physics and can only pack so many MIMO antennae and so much data into so many MHz.

  10. Grimreaper says:

    If 3G gets switched off, that will be a huge part of North Wales without any mobile data access. 4G is patchy and dire, and 5G – yeah sure given the ‘success’ with 4G in the area I suspect there is more chance of meeting an honest politician!.

    1. Jamie Powell says:

      I think you have misunderstood. The 3g coverage will simply be replaced by 4g coverage so it won’t make any difference you will get the same or maybe even better coverage from the new 4G service. You don’t need to worry. Carriers have been shaving spectrum from the 3G service for ages has been getting slower and slower but 4 g coverage has been getting much better so don’t worry

  11. Howard Neal says:

    2.2 Gbps is all very well and good but, where I am in rural Wales, it’s a good day if I can push 2.2 Mbps on 4G using a 1 metre parabolic antenna. Not surprisingly, I would rather they spend their money making the existing 4G network more inclusive.

  12. Matt says:

    I don’t see how they can be allowed to advertise this at all when they can barely give 100Mbps on 5G let alone 2.2Gbps

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