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EE launches ‘world’s fastest’ LTE-A network in London

EE’s CEO Olaf Swantee annouced the launch of EE's LTE-A service at a Huawei event in London

UK LTE operator EE has switched on what it claims is the world’s fastest LTE-Advanced (LTE-A) network in London’s Tech City, claiming to offer speeds of 300Mbps. The network makes use of carrier aggregation – bringing together 20MHz of 1800MHz spectrum and 20MHz of 2.6GHz spectrum. More features will be trialled throughout 2014, EE said.

CEO Olaf Swantee announced the launch of the network at Chinese infrastructure vendor Huawei’s Global Mobile Broadband Forum in London. Huawei is EE’s 4G technology partner for this project.

He said that the network offers theoretical LTE-A speeds of 300Mbps, but tests in a live network have still generated speeds of 297Mbps, claiming that it is the fastest mobile network in the world. He added that the upgrade to LTE-A across the UK will necessitate the creation of 1,000 new job roles and said that there is much “heavy lifting” required in terms of upgrading the equipment and antennae at all of its sites.

“Our analysts predict that data usage will grow significantly over the next three years. In fact, our trend-mapping shows that data usage is set to rise by 750 per cent in that period, as consumers and companies conduct more of their business and lives on-line,” he said.

“The network we’re switching on today in Tech City uses the spectrum that we acquired in the Ofcom spectrum auction earlier this year, and is the first part of an infrastructure that can meet the future demands of an increasingly data-hungry nation, enabling us to stay one-step ahead of the demand.”

 

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The LTE-A network will be rolled out across London throughout 2014 and in December 2013 EE will select local companies from the Tech City area to become its exclusive partners, enabling them to experience the service before it becomes commercially available when compatible devices launch from mid-2014.

The operator added that the amount of capacity within the 4G network enables business applications, such as ERP and SAP, to become cloud-based, offering enterprises efficiency and flexibility. EE added that financial institutions in particular can benefit from this flexibility, as they are often reliant upon transferring large volumes of data.

It added that the increased bandwidth offered on the network also enables media firms to take a new approach to outside broadcast; a small number of 4G SIMs can replace an entire satellite truck and the rental of a satellite connection, according to EE.

The switch brings some competition to South Korean operators which have been offering LTE-A commercially for some time. In September, LTE-A pioneer SK Telecom said it had begun offering faster services with its 35MHz of 1800MHz spectrum. SKT has split the allocation with 20MHz on the downlink and 15MHz on the uplink, allowing the company to upgrade its LTE download speeds to 150Mbps for all users.

In his keynote address in London, Swantee added that EE has seen a number of trends since launching the 4G network a little over a year ago, such as upload traffic exceeding download traffic, particularly at live sport or music events, a 20 per cent spike in traffic when tennis player Andy Murray won Wimbledon, 4G services replacing the need for public wifi services and over a third of traffic on the network attributable to video, streaming, downloads, uploads and video calls.

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