EE has become the first operator in the
The BT-owned operator, which was also the first to launch 4G services in the UK, has thus scored another point over its three rivals, which have yet to formally announce support for Cat 9 speeds on their 4G networks.
However, EE is not offering the new capability nationwide at present. In fact Cat 9 has so far only been activated in Wembley Stadium, and will gradually be rolled out to other sites in
Essentially, Cat 9 speeds are enabled on 4G networks through three-carrier aggregation (3CA), where operators use three blocks of spectrum in order to boost data download and upload speeds. EE is using one block of 1800 MHz and two blocks of 2.6 GHz spectrum for the new service.
EE and Vodafone
A Vodafone UK spokesperson told FierceWireless:Europe that the operator was deploying “both two-way and three-way carrier aggregation” in major
“We continually investigate and deploy the latest technologies to ensure that our customers get the best network experience throughout the
O2 UK is also starting to roll out 2CA:“After successfully deploying LTE on 1800 MHz in the Channel Tunnel, we are rolling out LTE at 1800 MHz across the
As noted by EE CEO Marc Allera, mobile operators are now being pushed to improve the capability of their 4G networks by the growing availability of Cat 9 devices.
“There’s no point having the latest smartphones on a network that can’t support the top speeds the device is capable of,” Allera said.
Ben Wood of CCS Insight made a similar point in a research note ahead of the expected launch of the iPhone 7 later on Wednesday. He noted that a number of premium devices including the HTC M10, Samsung Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 edge, and the rumoured iPhone 7 all support Cat 9 but many networks still do not.
“Of course, over time, all networks will eventually upgrade the technology if they have the necessary spectrum assets and appetite for investment. But savvy smartphone buyers would be well advised to carefully check exactly what network capabilities their operator offers when choosing the airtime they want to use on their expensive new smartphone,” Wood said.
In fact Cat 9 support is still fairly rare across the globe, according to the latest update from the Global mobile Suppliers Association (GSA). In its August update, the association said a total of 147 LTE-A carrier aggregation networks had been commercially launched globally, of which 103 were in the Cat 6 category and 17 in Cat 9. Five operators -- Telstra, DNA in
In Europe, the GSA said operators with Cat 9 support include T-Mobile Czech Republic; TDC in Denmark; SFR in France; Vodafone Germany; Cosmote in Greece; Tele2 in Latvia; Omnitel in Lithuania and Orange Romania.
The number of Cat 9 and Cat 6 devices is growing: in early August, the GSA said there were 40 Cat 9 devices on the market and 285 with Cat 6 speeds.
- see the EE release
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