Wednesday, July 03, 2013

Confirmed: EE DoubleSpeed to light up in 12 cities on July 4

Everything Everywhere (EE) is still the only 4G carrier in the U.K., and it's not standing still either. The carrier has confirmed on Wednesday that just 24 hours later, on July 4, EE customers in 12 cities would see double the data bandwidth, as EE DoubleSpeed goes live.

Originally scheduled for 10 cities, EE has upped the ante to 12. The cities thus gifted are:
  • Birmingham
  • Bristol
  • Cardiff
  • Derby
  • Edinburgh
  • Glasgow
  • Leeds
  • Liverpool
  • London (go figure)
  • Manchester
  • Nottingham
  • Sheffield
The company said that EE DoublesSpeed double speed will give EE’s network a theoretical maximum top speed of 150Mbps. In practice, customers will see a doubling of the current "actual" top speed, meaning their new top end will hit around 24 - 40Mbps.

EE CEO Olaf Swantee said:
Our new double-speed 4G technology means that we have the biggest, fastest and best network in the UK, and now the equal fastest in the world. With our superfast network, we have a unique opportunity to introduce a new era of customer-friendly pricing models based on speed, and we’ll be revealing further details of this later this year.
EE was formed by the merger of T-Mobile and Orange.

A big question is why, although the speeds that EE is advertising matches that of SK Telecom, it's not being called LTE-Advanced while SK Telecom's new network is. The reason is as because they are accomplishing the doubling of their speeds in different ways.

EE cleared out some of its spectrum in the 1800 MHz band, which allowed the carrier to create a single 20 MHz-by-20 MHz block of spectrum for LTE use. This allowed it to double its speed.

SK Telecom is achieving the same result by combining separate frequency bands -- 800 Mhz and 1800 MHz -- using a technique called carrier aggregation. Carrier aggregation is part of LTE-Advanced, so SK Telecom is correct in calling its speed-up a result of LTE-Advanced.

EE, meanwhile, says it aims to test carrier aggregation before the end of 2013.

Admittedly, carrier aggregation is a somewhat confusing term. While most people think of a carrier being something like EE, in telecom-speak, carrier refers to a block of spectrum.

In the U.S., Verizon Wireless announced that it would be doubling its data speeds, as well, through the use of the AWS bands it acquired in 2012 from a group of cable companies led by Comcast. The service is scheduled to begin lighting up in some major cities, including New York City, in the next few months.

This, too, is not LTE-Advanced, though U.S. carriers have said they will eventually support it.

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