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EE Starts Rollout of LTE-A Powered 360Mbps 4G+

Steve McCaskill is editor of TechWeekEurope and ChannelBiz. He joined as a reporter in 2011 and covers all areas of IT, with a particular interest in telecommunications, mobile and networking, along with sports technology.

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EE looks to press home technical advantage with 360Mbps Cat9 LTE-A rollout, starting with Wembley Stadium

EE has promised to deliver 4G speeds of more than 360Mbps to parts of London, Manchester and Birmingham by the end of the year and has already switched on Cat 9 LTE at Wembley Stadium.

The BT-owned operator has paired 20MHz of 1800MHz spectrum with 35MHz of 2600MHz spectrum to power the Cat9 service, which classifies as LTE-Advanced (LTE-A) or the more consumer-friendly ‘4G+’.

The national stadium is the first area to be upgraded, but EE says busy areas such as Tech City will be next and more major UK cities will be added next year. The company has already rolled out a less technically advanced version of LTE-A to 150 towns and cities.

EE Cat9 LTE

Wembley EE 4A compatible smartphone is required, with the HTC M10, Samsung Galaxy S7 and the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 – when its battery stops exploding – are offered as examples.

EE is the UK’s largest 4G operator and has continually used technical innovations to support its first mover advantage. It has the most customers and the most extensive coverage, although even it has recognised this won’t last forever and has turned to other offers such as free Apple Music and BT Sport to maintain its lead.

“There’s no point having the latest smartphones on a network that can’t support the top speeds the device is capable of,” said EE CEO Marc Allera.

“We’ve invested in our network to ensure that all of our customers get the most out of the amazing smartphones they have, and can keep up with the highest speeds that the latest devices offer. With 4G+ now supporting Cat 9 devices, plus Wi-Fi Calling and 4G Calling, customers on EE will continue to get more from their new smartphone than on any other network in the UK.”

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Experts say the development means the UK is closer to gaining ‘superfast’ mobile speeds but warn this will be of little consolation to those stuck in mobile ‘notspots’.

“Further roll-outs are planned in London, Birmingham and Manchester, but many customers – of both EE and the other big providers – still struggle to secure decent 3G coverage and speeds,” said Ernest Doku, telecoms expert at uSwitch. “The real test will be their ability to push the market forward without leaving those already long suffering blank-spot and super-slow speed customers even further behind. And they’ll need to be able to deliver at an attractive and competitive price.”

EE has pledged to deliver 4G coverage of the UK’s landmass by 2020 and claims it covers two thirds of the country already.

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