Vodafone Spain has started rolling out its 4G+ service across Spain, offering what it claims is a doubling of download speeds to 300Mbps.
The 4G+ service, also known as LTE Advanced or LTE-A, will initially be available in Madrid, Barcelona, and Valencia and will go live in Seville, Bilbao, Malaga, Zaragoza and La Coruña in December of this year.
Vodafone said the speed of the rollout will increase in January 2015 once the 800MHz spectrum is fully freed up by the government. This means Vodafone will be offering what's known as carrier aggregation — where separate spectrum bands are combined to increase throughput, allowing operators to theoretcially double data speeds. In Spain, Vodafone will be bundling 1800MHz, 2600MHz and 800MHz spectrum.
The company tested LTE-A in Madrid at the, and said it saw "sustained" speeds of over 280Mbps, although real world speeds are likely to be significantly lower due to the number of people and devices sharing the same bandwidth.
4G+ will be offered free of charge to new and existing customers, provided they have a compatible handset. That could prove to be a stumbling block for customers as there are not many devices on the market that are 4G-LTE Advanced compatible; Vodafone will be offering an exclusive version of the Samsung Galaxy S5 that will be compatible and a couple of other Samsung devices — the Galaxy Alpha and the Galaxy Note 4 — will also support faster 4G.
Meanwhile, Vodafone has upgraded its 3G network across the country to offer HD voice calls. Vodafone says this will enable faster connection times, clearer calls and a reduction in background noise. It will be available across all Vodafone devices, including Apple’s new iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, which went on sale in Spain at the end of September.