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EE Refarms 2G Spectrum To Boost 4G Speeds And Reliability

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 allocates more 1800MHz spectrum for 4G to boost speeds and reliability in major cities

EE is to re-farm more 2G spectrum to support its growing 4G network and will upgrade more than 600 sites in major cities over the next six months to prepare for ‘Cat 12’ LTE.

At present more than 1,000 sites support Cat 9 LTE, which can deliver 400Mbps to compatible smartphones, and the fastest real world test recorded on EE’s network is 428Mbps.

This was achieved in Cardiff using Cat 16 LTE on a Sony Xperia XZ Premium – the only device to date to support the standard.

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EE 4G spectrum refarm

However the re-farming of an additional 10MHz of 1800MHz will boost the speed and reliability of EE’s network in major cities including London, Birmingham, Manchester, Edinburgh and Cardiff for everyone, doubling upload speeds to 100Mbps.

EE marries this 1800MHz with high capacity 2.6GHz airwaves, using a process called carrier aggregation. The former uses 4×4 MIMO to use four signals instead of two for a more efficient connection and the application of 256QAM (Quadrature Amplitude Modulation) maximises spectrum efficiency. 

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“We keep investing in our network, and using our technology leadership to make sure customers are getting the most out of the latest smartphones,” said EE CEO Marc Allera. “Customers need to be on 4G, getting the best out of their new devices with the highest quality phone calls and the fastest mobile data speeds.

“We’re converting 2G into 4G, because that’s what our customers need. So if you are choosing a new smartphone, the message is simple: there’s only one UK network that offers the best smartphone experience.”

2G is mainly used to transmit voice, but EE claims that five million customers are now making use of Voice over LTE (VoLTE), which delivers calls over 4G.

EE has pledged to cover 95 percent of the UK landmass by the end of the decade. This will be possible by using low frequency spectrum bands and other methods such as drones and balloons.

Quiz: What do you know about 4G?