Vodafone has begun upgrading its mobile broadband network to a theoretical maximum download speed of 14.4Mbps, the operator announced on Thursday.
Rival British operators offer much lower theoretical maximum speeds. T-Mobile's mobile broadband tops out at 4.5Mbps. O2, 3 and Orange all advertise up to 3.6Mbps, but are in the process of rolling out technology capable of speeds of up to 7.2Mbps.
"Today's network upgrade means customers can be reassured we're consistently enhancing the quality of our network in response to demand," Vodafone UK's chief technology officer, Jeni Mundy, said in a statement.
The theoretical maximum of 14.4Mbps will almost never be achieved in practice. A variety of factors — the two most influential being the distance from the nearest base station and the number of subscribers using the same station — mean the result is actually much lower speeds.
According to Vodafone, most of the customers connecting to base stations that offer 14.4Mbps will get somewhere in between 1Mbps and 5Mbps, and no-one is likely to achieve more than 10.8Mbps on the downlink.
The upgrade has already applied to sites in busy areas of London, Birmingham and Liverpool, with the rest of the UK gaining the higher speeds "on an ongoing basis", the operator said.