EE is bringing its next-gen 300Mbps 4G services to Wembley Stadium next year.
As well as delivering the fastest speeds to east London’s tech hub, EE will also be building on its partnership with Wembley, meaning sports fans will be able to tap into the UK’s fastest mobile speeds ahead of an eventual nationwide rollout.
If that wasn’t enough, EE will also trial a new mobile services delivering speeds of up to 400Mbps in the national stadium.
Fotis Karonis, chief technology officer at EE, said: “We’ve added enough capacity to connect every visitor that walks through the gates, and we’re continuing to invest – more 3G, more 4G, superfast WiFi and the capability to launch a multi-operator 4G service, supporting all the networks, means everyone with a smartphone can be connected at Wembley.
“This partnership has a very clear vision – we want Wembley to be the world’s best connected stadium, showing off new technologies first and giving two million visitors a year the best possible Wembley experience.”
To make sure everyone attending gigs or sports fixtures at Wembley, EE will be adding more antennas and merging spectrum to better serve the 90,000-capacity stadium.
While the fastest LTE-Advanced services will only be available to those with the latest hardware, EE has said that everyone on its network will benefit from this uplift in speeds and extra bandwidth.
Mansoor Hanif, EE’s director of RAN development and programmes added: “We will be launching 300Mbps here in the Stadium. How do we achieve that? That means we add another 20MHz to our 2.6GHz spectrum. So we’ll have plenty of the 1800MHz spectrum that we have today with another 20MHz of 2.6GHz on top of that. What that means is that if you have the right device then you can really get the speeds that you really need.”
“What is also means is that everyone can use the extra capacity, whether you have the right device or not. By doing this, we’re catering for the higher end users with the latest phones and also the average fan who comes to Wembley.”
By ‘the right device,’ Hanif means a phone, tablet or dongle with a Cat (Category) 6 LTE antenna in. Only Cat 6 devices can make the most of EE’s LTE-Advanced network and access speeds of up to 300Mbps.
But launching LTE-A will see the average network speed increase, benefitting everyone, even those with older 4G devices with Cat 4 antennas – see our feature on Cat 6 LTE for more information.
Not content to stop there, EE has also announced plans to trial an even faster 4G service, one which will offer download speeds of up to 400Mbps, in 2015.
This trial will make use of early devices with Cat 9 radios, which according to the body which defines 4G equipment categories, allows for download speeds of up to 452.2Mbps.
The number of devices on the market with Cat 6 radios in them now is small – it’s going to be years before we start seeing Apple iPhone 9s and HTC One (M12)s with Cat 9 antennas in them.
Hanif added that EE wants to be ready for the next step change in 4G and mentioned that talks with device and chipset manufacturers regarding trials are happening now.
“We’re right on the cutting edge of the global race. We’re ahead of America and on par with Asia. Our goal is to get this back up to the number one spot. And that’s what we’re doing next. 400Mbps is the next step. Before we launch we’re going to trial it right here [in Wembley],” Hanif said.
“We are moving ahead, just one step ahead to make to make sure nobody experiences degradation and the quality of experience keeps on moving up.”
The UK might have lagged behind the rest of the world when it came to actually rolling out 4G services but if EE has anything to do with it, we’ll soon catch up and overtake the rest of the world.
While this is all encouraging stuff there’s no timetable for a wider rollout of 300Mbps 4G across the rest of the UK. Once the last series of technical trials with Ofcom have been completed, we expect to get a clearer picture of when 300Mbps LTE-Advanced will start coming to the rest of the UK.