EE boosts 4G speeds in London as LTE-A goes live

Ahead of Vodafone's faster 4G roll out, EE has switched on its improved 4G network in central London.
Written by Liam Tung, Contributing Writer

The UK's first 4G mover, EE, has switched on LTE-Advanced (LTE-A) in central London, boosting speeds for devices that support the technology and adding capacity for those that don't.

The operator yesterday announced commercial availability for LTE-A, following an earlier trial of the tech in the capital. The operator launched the upgrade on base stations in central London, ahead of a wider rollout across the city and further expansion in 2015.

The UK was a little slower than parts of Asia, the US, Scandinavia, and Australia to kick off 4G, but the country now has two operators, EE and Vodafone, pushing for higher 4G data speeds with LTE-A roll outs.

Londoners in EE's LTE-A equipped areas may experience bursts in download speeds of up to 150Mbps on their smartphone, but are more likely to see up to 90Mbps.

As EE notes, LTE-A uses carrier aggregation, which combines spectrum across two bands to boost speeds. In EE's case, it's splicing 20MHz in both the 1800MHz and 2.6GHz bands to achieve a theoretical maximum download speed of 300Mbps, though in reality that maximum is more in the region of 150Mbps.

EE also notes that the only two devices that truly support the technology are Samsung's Galaxy Alpha and Galaxy Note 4. Non-LTE-A smartphones meanwhile will benefit from the capacity boost the tech brings.

Locations in central London that should see the speed boost include including Shoreditch, Old Street, Southbank, Soho, Westminster and Kensington.

The next phase of the rollout aims to cover Greater London by June 2015, followed by major cities including Birmingham, Liverpool and Manchester.

The central London deployment follows an announcement earlier this month by rival Vodafone that it would begin its LTE-A deployment in November, potentially pipping EE to the post.  

Vodafone UK will begin rolling out its own LTE-A enhancements in Birmingham, Manchester, and London, with other cities to planned through to 2015. Vodafone has focused the messaging in its LTE upgrade on boosting capacity and indoor coverage rather than speeds.

EE also switched on its normal 4G network for 19 more towns this month, meaning it now covers more than 75 percent of the population, according to EE. The operator said it now had six million 4G subscribers. 

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