The UK’s biggest network has begun trialling next-gen 4G tech which will kick top mobile broadband speeds up to 400Mbps.
Phones, tablets and dongles with Cat (Category) 9 radios will be able to make the most of the new technology, similar to how hardware with a Cat 6 radio can tap into the top 300Mbps speeds currently possible on EE’s network.
While that top speed is unlikely to be achieved in anything but lab conditions, in a real-world demo setting, Recombu witnessed a live demo of the new 4G+ service at Wembley Stadium. You can see the results of the speedtest below.
EE along with Qualcomm and Huawei was able to achieve this by combines three different EE spectrum bands to achieve 400Mbps speeds to a single device. EE owns licences to launch 4G services on the 800MHz, 1800MHz and 2.6GHz bands, which in normal English means it’s well placed to provide coverage in sparsely populated rural areas, the suburbs and densely clustered cities.
The network is throwing £1.5 billion at bringing 4G services to 99 per cent of the population by 2017 – although ultrafast 4G+ will only reach 20 of the biggest cities by that date.
In the meantime, EE is concentrating on bringing 300Mbps 4G+ (EE’s marketing term for LTE-Advanced) to Wembley Stadium, starting with covering the seated stadium area and aiming to cover all concourse areas by the end of 2015.
This means sports fans in the 90,000-capacity stadium will be able to access social media more easily, send messages to Wembley’s giant video board and stream high definition replay footage from multiple angles at half time.
EE eventually plans to launch a multi-operator 4G service at the stadium, so you’ll be able to tweet at leisure whatever network you’re on.
Fotis Karonis, EE’s chief technology officer, said: “Smarter devices with more data intensive video and audio demands are launching all the time, and it’s trials like these at Wembley Stadium that allow us to ensure EE customers continue to get the very best experiences from their mobile network now and in the future.
“This is a showcase of what a truly amazing 4G network can do, and is a big step in our ambition to make Wembley Stadium the most connected stadium in the world.”
To demonstrate the power of ultrafast 4G+, EE beamed video content to an array of devices with Full HD and 4K Ultra HD displays during our visit.
While it’ll be a while before the first phones with Cat 9 LTE radios hit the market, EE wants to be ready to serve any early adopters. It’s rumoured that HTC’s One (M9) and the Samsung Galaxy S6, both due to be unveiled at Mobile World Congress next week, will feature Cat 9 antennas.
Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 810 chip supports Cat 9 LTE, which theoretically allows for download speeds of up to 452.2Mbps on phones. Enrico Salvatori, senior vice president and president of Qualcomm Europe, said: “Qualcomm Technologies continues to lead the mobile industry in modem technology and we are excited to continue our work with EE to bring Category 9 LTE-A connectivity to the UK.
“Our innovations in LTE-A enable faster peak download speeds and more reliable connectivity over the most advanced networks available for exceptional 4K user experiences, and we look forward to driving these capabilities into the UK and beyond.”
As with customers who’ve bought Samsung Galaxy Note 4s, Alphas and certain versions of the Galaxy S5, having devices on the market that can change into that faster lane will also benefit other customers on EE’s network. So even if you don’t get a phone with a Qualcomm 810 chip humming under the hood, if you’re on EE and you can get 4G, you’ll get an indirect benefit from this fast-lane tech too.