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Vodafone UK readies LTE-Advanced rollout in three cities

Vodafone will roll out faster 4G across Birmingham, Manchester and London.
Written by Liam Tung, Contributing Writer

Vodafone UK may beat rival EE to being the first operator to offer higher speed LTE-Advanced across multiple cities in the UK.

The company said it will roll out LTE-Advanced, otherwise known as carrier aggregation, in Birmingham, Manchester, and London from next month, with other cities to planned through to 2015.

It hasn't made any claims about speeds that users will see with LTE-A other than that it will offer higher average speeds to more simultaneous users, including indoors.

Vodafone's LTE-A launch follows rival EE, which kicked off a trial in London's Tech City last year and touted speeds of up to 300Mbps — the theoretical maximum LTE-A offers. The operator plans on rolling out LTE-A across London through this year.

The technology is being rolled out as more smartphones begin to support LTE-A, with some of the first coming from Samsung, such as the Galaxy Round, and Galaxy S5. Other devices that support LTE-A include Apple's iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, as well as Google's new Motorola-made Nexus 6.

In EE's case, carrier aggregation meant pairing a 20MHz slice of 1800 MHz spectrum with 20MHz of 2.6GHz spectrum.

Vodafone is using the 800Mhz and 2.6GHz spectrum that it acquired through last year's 4G spectrum auction by Ofcom. Vodafone acquired two lots of 10MHz of 800MHz, two lots of 20MHz of 2.6GHz as well as one lot of 25MHz of 2.6GHz.

Vodafone notes that carrier aggregation helps by pairing a low frequency and high frequency to deliver a more reliable indoor service, while the higher frequency delivers greater peak speeds and capacity.

As such, to benefit from carrier aggregation, Vodafone customers will need a handset that supports both 800Mhz and 2.6GHz, but according to it, most new phones do. 

Following South Korea's first move on LTE-A last year, several carriers across Europe have followed suit, with Vodafone kicking off commercial LTE-A in Spain, covering three cities, while Swisscom is preparing to launch LTE-A next year.

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