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Mobile network operator EE has begun the next phase of its 4G roll-out, bringing a new block of spectrum into service to support Cat 9 Long Term Evolution Advanced (LTE-A) smartphone devices, which are beginning to hit the market.
Cat 9 LTE-A devices are able to use three mobile spectrum bands as opposed to the currently more common Cat 6 LTE-A generation, which only use two.
EE’s service will combine 20MHz of 1,800MHz spectrum and 35MHz of 2,600MHz spectrum to offer an additional 55MHz of spectrum for 4G services.
In practice, this means that Cat 9 devices will be capable of achieving much higher mobile broadband speeds.
Indeed, under lab conditions Cat 9 devices have already hit 450Mbps, although in real-world conditions EE has clocked them at 360Mbps, still a UK mobile broadband speed record.
“There’s no point having the latest smartphones on a network that can’t support the top speeds the device is capable of,” said EE CEO Marc Allera.
“We’ve invested in our network to ensure that all of our customers get the most out of the amazing smartphones they have, and can keep up with the highest speeds that the latest devices offer.”
EE will begin to add capacity for Cat 9 devices in Birmingham, London and Manchester, beginning in the Tech City area, in the next few weeks, and said it planned to activate the service at 500 sites in 150 towns and cities throughout 2017.
The increase in capacity and speed will likely draw more EE customers to data-heavy content services because, thus far, the expansion of 4G availability has gone hand in hand with an expansion in data consumption.
At the end of August 2016, EE moved to capitalise on this hunger for data, offering new and upgrading customers six months of free access to Apple’s Music streaming service.
Commercially available Cat 9 devices include the HTC M10, the Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge, as well as the recalled Galaxy Note 7. ... ... ... ... ...