EE looks to ace Wimbledon 4G mobile capacity

Leading UK comms provider upgrades mobile network with small cell system and makes additional upgrades to existing sites in and around iconic London home of tennis tournament to head off traffic spike

The Wimbledon tennis championship is more than just a major sporting event, it is a part of British culture, and with 500,000 visitors expected at this year’s tournament, leading mobile operator EE has revealed it will be delivering enhanced 4G mobile connectivity to the Wimbledon area to support existing 4G and 5G sites and implementing a new small cell system to improve coverage and minimise congestion when the area is busy.

Given that so many sports fans visit the tournament every year, the BT-owned telco said the need for high-capacity, high-speed mobile connectivity was essential to ensure visitors can stay connected to friends and family, as well as to capture and share the memorable moments conjured up at such a major sporting event.

The small cells, essentially street-level mobile masts, are deployed to support capacity in busy locations where it is impractical to build larger sites. In Wimbledon, EE’s small cells are being located to support all year-round coverage for customers visiting SW19’s famous sporting venue.

EE has worked closely with Nokia to deploy the solutions, which use its licensed 1,800MHz and 2,600Mhz spectrum to deliver standout capacity and speeds of up to 300Mbps.

EE noted that the installation of small cells in Wimbledon is also part of a wider commitment to deliver the very best capacity and speeds across the country, with over 600 such deployments now in place nationwide, in major towns and cities, as well as tourism hotspots. Advanced network analytics help to identify where sites are required, with EE then taking advantage of existing street furniture such as red telephone boxes to install small cells. Trials are also ongoing to ensure that all sites can be upgraded to accommodate EE’s 5G network in the future.

Talking to Computer Weekly about the Wimbledon deployment and small cells in general, Greg McCall, chief networks officer at BT Group, said: “We always strive to deliver a seamless connection for our customers wherever it’s needed in the UK. Small cells are one means of us doing so in congested and high-demand areas where it’s impractical to build larger sites.

“To put it into perspective, EE’s 611 small cell sites currently carry 20TB of data traffic every day – the equivalent of streaming 8,000 hours of HD video – demonstrating the substantial value they offer to customers in high-demand areas. These include town and city centres, transport hubs and areas hosting major events, where an influx of people often leads to sharp spikes in network traffic and data volumes.

“These spikes are only becoming more pronounced as data-intensive mobile use cases – such as streaming, data uploads and video calls – proliferate. Lots of planning and logistics goes into the deployment of our small cells to alleviate network pain points and ensure that our customers aren’t let down by a poor mobile connection. We’re delighted to be working with Nokia to bring enhanced 4G mobile capacity to Wimbledon.”

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