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4G+ network puts UK on par with Europe

Thursday, October 30th 2014 by Ellen Branagh

The expansion of the UK’s next generation 4G mobile network has been dubbed “pretty impressive” by an industry analyst.

Oliver Johnson, chief executive of market intelligence firm Point Topic, said the improvement in mobile data speeds puts the UK “up along with" other European markets.

His comments come as mobile provider EE today announced the switch-on of its 4G+ network in central London – which claims to deliver data speeds of up to 150Mbps to a smartphone –saying it brings the UK from a “laggard back to being a leader”.

The technology uses the firm’s 2.6GHz high capacity spectrum, and will improve performance for all 4G customers, not just 4G+, the firm says.

Mr Johnson said the expansion of 4G and 4G+ was impressive, although the UK does have a “little way to go”.

He told Cable.co.uk: “It’s pretty impressive for the UK.

“It puts us up along with a number of other markets, but the adoption is perhaps not as high in the UK as it is in some other markets so we’ve got a little way to go in some respects.”

Asked if such high speeds available on mobile would threaten the market for fixed broadband, he said: “The downside with mobile in much of Europe and the UK is a couple of things.

He identified possible difficulties as contention – difficulties with a large number of people in a small cell area – as well as data caps and price.

Mr Johnson said: “With mobile it can be quite difficult, particularly in cities which makes it difficult to deliver a higher bandwidth to them all.”

“Data caps – so typically, for example, you get five gigabytes. At that sort of speed it severely limits the sort of data that you would want to download or exchange over a mobile network.

“So it’s much less likely to be 4K streaming of video, and it’s much more likely to be quick access of email.

“There’s also price.”

But he said high speed mobile would also be “incredibly useful” in rural areas, and in giving more options to consumers.

“The more it spreads across the UK the better the UK will be served by multiple bandwidth providers.”

The next step in 4G technology, also known as LTE-Advanced, is live at around 150 sites across the capital.

EE said that mobile data speeds in 4G+ areas will regularly be up to 90Mbps, and customers will see speeds as high as 150Mbps, for users with a compatible device – currently the Samsung Note 4 and the Samsung Alpha – on a 4GEE Extra or Corporate 4GEE plan.

The firm said it aims to have full 4G+ coverage across Greater London by June 2015, and then plans to introduce it across cities including Birmingham, Liverpool and Manchester.

Chief executive Olaf Swantee said: “The UK is now back to being a world leader in mobile networks.

“Just two years since we were behind every developed market from the US 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.

“We’re delighted to be able to exclusively offer our business and consumer customers on EE plans the fastest speeds available in the UK.

“We’re now the largest 4G network in Europe, but it doesn’t stop here.

“We’ll keep investing to make sure that all our customers can get access to the great mobile technology that can make a real difference to the way they live their digital lives.”

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