Mobile broadband outstrips fibre connections in tests of the latest 4G equipment
EE has hit speeds of over 400Mbits/sec in trials of a next-generation 4G technology that could be deployed in the UK as soon as next year. The trials were conducted using a technnology called LTE-Advanced (LTE-A), a slower variant of which has already been deployed in parts of London.
The ultrafast speeds – which are faster than any fibre connection you can currently buy from BT or Virgin Media – are achieved by aggregating transmissions over three different sections of radio spectrum. EE already has more 4G spectrum than any other UK mobile network, and the company will have even more to play with if BT completes its proposed takeover of the company, as BT won some spectrum of its own in 2012’s 4G auction.
However, consumers are unlikely to ever see those headline speeds. EE’s current LTE-A network delivers a maximum speed of 300Mbits/sec, but actual download speeds top out at around 90Mbits/sec. Nevertheless, it raises the prospect of triple-digit download speeds over mobile broadband for the first time.
The trials, which were conducted in association with Qualcomm and Huawei, ahcieved download speeds of 410Mbits/sec by aggregating 20MHz of 1,800MHz spectrum with 20MHz of 2.6GHz and a separate 15MHz of 2.6GHz.
EE says it plans to deliver the technology To British customers in 2015. “Use of our remaining 15MHz of 2.6GHz spectrum enables both our fastest speeds and an increase in capacity across our network and this successful testing phase is a big step forward,” said Tom Bennett, director of network services and devices at EE. “We look forward to demonstrating this at Wembley Stadium early next year.”
EE took advantage of its existing spectrum to get a year’s head start on other networks, leaving it with the UK’s biggest 4G network to date. BT has entered exclusive talks to buy the network for £12.5 billion, but will likely face months of wrangling with competition authorities before the deal is given the green light.