Today EE will switch on its latest 4G speed boost, pushing the top speeds possible on its network up to 300Mbps.
Once trials are complete, phased rollouts of the 300Mbps network are expected hit the UK’s big cities and outlying areas in the middle of 2014.
Speaking at Huawei’s Global Mobile Broadband Forum in London, EE’s chief executive officer Olaf Swantee said: “Today we are introducing the next age of 4G mobile technology to the UK.
“Our existing 4G network delivers incredible mobile data speeds and covers millions of people across the country, but we never stand still. We know that mobile data usage is going to keep increasing, and rapidly so.
“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.”
Just as top speeds of 150Mbps are now available in over 20 cities, more locations across the UK will eventually be able to access faster speeds. EE 4G is currently available in over 131 locations across the UK and the company is well on track to providing 4G to 98 per cent of the population by the end of 2014.
300Mbps: Speeds too Advanced for your current phone
EE’s latest network upgrade complies to the LTE-Advanced standard, as defined by the 3GPP (3rd Generation Partner Project).
In layman’s terms, this means that not every phone, tablet or dongle on the market yet will benefit from the speed boost just yet.
The fastest speeds will only be accessible on devices with Category 5 and 6 radios inside them. Other gadgets, like the Huawei Ascend P2 phone (which has a Category 4 antenna) and EE’s current MiFi product will only be able to access speeds of up to 150Mbps. Older devices with Category 3 radios can only muster speeds of up to 100Mbps.
EE says that this will change as more devices that are LTE-Advanced-certified hit the market.
In December, EE will launch a trial of its new 300Mbps service with local companies from Tech City.
This selected user programme will see trialists able to make use of a Huawei-made Category 6 router. This is reportedly the first device of its kind in the world, a dual-band WiFi AC device capable of accessing speeds of up to 200Mbps.
EE expects the first commercially available Category 6 phones and dongles to on sale in the second half of 2014, by which time more cities and towns should be able to tap in to three figure speeds on the 4G network. This gives us some idea of the shape that EE’s domestic 4G broadband service, due to be launched this month, could take.
Swantee revealed that EE analysts are predicting a massive surge in mobile data use over the next three years. As more customers and companies access more data an increase of up to 750 per cent is on the cards.
Ofcom is predicting a similar scenario, which is why its keen on setting out the terms of a 5G auction now and getting the UK prepared for the next next generation.
On the surface, today’s news won’t be of immediate interest to anyone outside the hallowed circle of EC2. But EE is clearly thinking ahead to those times when 4G will be available virtually everywhere and people might want to use it to augment or replace their current fixed-line broadband service.