EE launches LTE Advanced services in London, reaches 6M LTE users

EE said its LTE Advanced network has now gone live in London, as the UK operator vies with Vodafone UK to become the first operator to roll out the higher speed services across the country.

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Olaf Swantee, EE CEO

The company, a 50:50 joint venture between Deutsche Telekom and Orange, said the service is now available in central London and will be rolled out to other UK cities including Birmingham, Liverpool and Manchester in 2015. The company also added that users of its existing LTE services have now reached 6 million, meaning it has reached its 2014 target two months ahead of schedule.

The move by EE to offer LTE Advanced (LTE-A), which is also variously called 4G+ or 4.5G, comes two weeks after Vodafone UK also announced plans to roll out the service in Birmingham, Manchester and London and to other UK cities during the rest of this year and 2015.

In this first step of LTE-A, which promises speeds of up to 150 Mbps, both operators are making use of carrier aggregation technology that allows the use of more than one carrier in order to increase the overall transmission bandwidth.

EE said it currently offers two LTE-A compatible devices--the Samsung Alpha and the Samsung Note 4. It is making use of its 2.6 GHz spectrum for the technology, while Vodafone is able to use both 2.6 GHz and 800 MHz spectrum.

Olaf Swantee, EE's CEO, heralded the launch of LTE-A, saying that the UK is back to being a world leader in mobile networks.

"Just two years since we were behind every developed market from the U.S. to Japan, we've invested in innovation, driven competition and given people in London a mobile network that's faster than almost any other in the world, and even faster than most fibre broadband available here," Swantee said.

EE and Vodafone UK are certainly part of a small club of operators that are now offering LTE-A in some form, but the number of trials is growing with an increasing number of operators announcing deployments.

In Europe, for example, France has already seen Bouygues Telecom launch the service, promising speeds of up to 220 Mbps, while Orange and SFR are in the process of rolling out LTE-A networks with plans to offer commercial services in a number of cities either late this year or early 2015. Orange has already started to offer the service commercially in Paris. In June this year, Swisscom became the first operator in Switzerland to deploy LTE-A services.

In August, ABI Research said the total number of subscribers for LTE and LTE-A would grow to nearly 411 million and 22 million respectively by year-end 2014. The research company also predicted that 45 networks would have commercially launched LTE-A by the fourth quarter of 2014.

ABI Research said in February that all the major mobile operators globally are showing their commitments to carrier aggregation-capable LTE-A technology, and forecast that LTE-A subscribers would grow to 750 million in 2019, accounting for 37.3 per cent of overall LTE subscribers.

For more:
- see this EE release
- see this Vodafone release

Related Articles:
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