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EE doubles 4G speeds

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UK operator group EE announced Tuesday that it is doubling network speeds for all of its 4G LTE subscribers.

The firm gained permission from Ofcom to refarm its 1800MHz spectrum for LTE services in August 2012, allowing it to launch ahead of its rivals, which only secured LTE spectrum in the country’s 4G auction in February 2013. O2, Vodafone and 3UK are currently preparing their networks for launch.

Making the most of its competitive advantage, EE has now doubled the amount of 1800MHz spectrum bandwidth that it dedicates to LTE services — from 10MHz to 20MHz. This, the firm said, will double the average speed 4G customers experience to more than 20Mbps, offer increased capacity on the network and boost headline speeds to 80Mbps.

EE said that it made the decision to refarm more 1800MHz spectrum a while ago, but had been waiting for more users to connect to the network in order for it to be worthwhile. Today, one in four new consumer or SMB customers who join EE opt for the LTE service.

The operator has now set a target of reaching one million 4G subscribers by the end of 2013, which would represent around eight per cent of the EE pay monthly user base. It also forecasts that network traffic will increase by 750 per cent in next three years.

“Mobile users in the UK have a huge appetite for data-rich applications, and this will only grow as people become more familiar with and reliant upon next generation technologies and services,” said EE CEO Olaf Swantee.

“Our double speed 4G network will provide developers with the quality and speeds needed to develop the next wave of killer 4G apps. Whatever innovations they come up with, we’re ready.”

Despite the doubling in speed, however, the operator does not intend to increase its data caps.

“You will not get bill shock. Once you hit your limit, the data service will be stopped, and then you can choose to buy data add-ons,” added Swantee.

LTE speeds will be introduced in ten UK cities by summer: Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds, Liverpool, London, Manchester and Sheffield. The network currently covers just over 50 per cent of the UK population in 50 cities across the nation.

Before the end of 2013, EE is also aiming to trial carrier aggregation to combine spectrum from different bands to boost performance and capacity, as preparations to launch LTE-A services begin.

The LTE World Summit, the premier 4G event for the telecoms industry, is taking place on the 24th-26th June 2013, at the Amsterdam RAI, Netherlands. Click here to download a flyer for the event.


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