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EE set to launch commercial LTE-A by end of month

Nokia claims LTE-A wins in Finland and Saudi

Following Vodafone’s carrier aggregation announcement , an EE spokesperson confirmed to Telecoms.com it is also switching on its LTE-A (Cat 6) offering, which should be available in central London by the end of this month.

EE’s LTE-A service will be based on carrier aggregation consisting of 2×20 MHz in the 1800 MHz band and 2×20 MHz in the 2.6 GHz band. The service is already live in London’s Tech City, where it has been run as a pilot scheme since late last year. We understand the 2×5 MHz of precious, long-range 800 MHz EE won in the 4G auction is being reserved for rural use and will also host EE’s VoLTE trials, which it still hopes to commence before the end of this year.

Vodafone claims its combined aggregation of 800 MHz and 2.6 GHz provides an optimal carrier aggregation (CA) solution for LTE-A as the lower band offers better range and indoor coverage , while 2.6 GHz offers higher capacity. However we understand Vodafone is only using 2×10 MHz in the 800 MHz band for CA, and supplementing it with 2×20 MHz in the 2.6 GHz band.

In practice, much of this talk of CA has a degree of headline-seeking to it as subscribers need to have devices that support CA, of which there are currently only three in the UK: Samsung’s Galaxy S5, Note 4 and Alpha. The more immediate benefit of operators making all this fresh 2.6 GHz spectrum available should be to increase capacity in densely populated areas. “Speed is the headline, but the real benefit is increased capacity for every 4G customer,” the EE spokesperson told Telecoms.com.

“The overall benefit of carrier aggregation is greater capacity to support more customers on 4G in highly populated areas,” Vodafone spokesperson told Telecoms.com. “Our 4G rollout is mainly based on 800 MHz where we have a 10 MHz block of paired spectrum. In addition, we have 20 MHz block of paired spectrum in the high frequency band – 2600 MHz.  So, when we combine all, we have 30 MHz, which is three times what we have in 800 MHz.”

It’s great for the UK market that our operators are getting into the CA game, so we no longer need to envy technologically advanced countries such as South Korea. But let’s not get carried away here; CA will only be a reality for a very small number of subscribers initially and it remains to be seen how fast and consistent real-world speeds will be.


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