British mobile network operator EE has unveiled what it has called ‘the next phase’ of its 4G network, saying it expects this to allow subscribers to get ‘the best performance from the world’s fastest smartphones’. In a press release announcing the development, EE said that a unique layer of extra capacity will enable Cat 9 devices, such as the HTC M10 and Samsung Galaxy S7, to benefit from increased downlink speeds.
Having already enabled the first stage of its LTE-Advanced (LTE-A) network to support Cat 6 devices, EE confirmed that this is currently available in more than 150 towns and cities across the UK. Now, with a view to supporting Cat 9 devices the operator has confirmed that it plans to enable access to a third block of spectrum for high-speed 4G services on over 500 sites across these towns and cities by the end of 2017. As such, to enable theoretical downlink speeds of 450Mbps EE has said it is combining 20MHz of spectrum in the 1800MHz band with a further 35MHz in the 2600MHz band. It claims this provides the highest capacity of any UK operator through the most spectrum deployed for 4G services.
Initially the high-speed, high-capacity network is live in Wembley Stadium, with activation on sites in central London expected to take place this year, starting in east London’s Tech City. Looking further ahead, EE has said the next locations for rollout will be the UK’s ‘busiest’ cities, including Birmingham and Manchester. Meanwhile, the company has said that, with it continuing to switch on standard 4G connectivity in new areas, its network now covers more than two-thirds of the UK’s territory, and it aims to increase this to 95% by 2020.