Market Insight

EE focusses new 300Mbps LTE-Advanced network on businesses

November 07, 2013

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EE announced the launch of its category 6 (Cat6) LTE-Advanced mobile network achieving a peak data transfer speed of 300Mbps.

The new network will be initially available in East London's Tech City and will be available to companies based in that area first. Expansion to the rest of London is planned throughout 2014.

EE is using carrier aggregation with spectrum in band 3 (1800MHz) and band 7 (2600MHz).

EE also unveiled new 'Super Bundles' for business users, ranging from 50TB (1TB = 1024GB) to 1PB (1PB = 1024TB), shareable across a maximum of 2,500 data-only SIM cards.

EE benefitted from a 10-month head start on its competition and achieved population coverage of 60 per cent before Vodafone and O2 UK launched 4G. The superior coverage offered by EE enabled it to focus on improving its transfer speeds and carrier aggregation.  Although EE did win bandwidth in the long-ranged 800MHz band, it was only 5MHz of paired spectrum and carrier aggregation with that band would not deliver as large a boost to its 4G network.

With over 1.2 million existing 4G subscribers in Q3 2013, EE is responding to the need to dedicate more spectrum bandwidth towards 4G technologies in order to maintain its mobile data speeds. 

With this announcement and launch, EE now can claim the fastest mobile data transfer speed in the world. Previously that title was held by South Korea's SK Telecom at 225Mbps. This technology leadership comes at a price however. No devices will be able to fully benefit from the speed. The Cat6 mobile router launched in tandem uses the 802.11ac version of Wi-Fi and can only reach 200Mbps when transmitting to devices in its network. Even then, only the most modern and high-end smartphones and tablets feature 802.11ac compatibility.

EE's 'Super Bundles', enabled by LTE-Advanced, are aimed at providing a mobile alternative to fixed or satellite uplinks. EE will offer an alternative uplink targeting businesses with a large number of data-only devices, such as CCTV or broadcasts. In addition, the lack of expiry date, contract period, and sharer fees will offer seasonal and event-based companies additional flexibility. However, in order for EE to succeed, it will need to ensure widespread and reliable LTE-Advanced coverage, particularly in dense urban areas. Likewise, due to limited coverage, it is unlikely that event broadcasters will replace existing satellite and cable solutions.

Improvements in telecommuting and cloud technologies have created the option for employees to work from non-office locations.  By signing up for one of EE's mobile internet business packages, companies could offer an internet connection to their out-of-office employees' devices wherever they choose to work.

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