Today Vodafone has begun to roll out a new technology known as 4.5G or LTE advanced, although its technical name is Carrier Aggregation. This technology will improve Vodafone 4G customers’ service and will enable more users to access ultra-fast speeds.
Vodafone will start to roll out 4.5G technology in three major cities, London, Birmingham, and Manchester this month, with plans to increase coverage to include other major cities during 2015. This launch is part of the £1 billion that Vodafone has committed to spending on improving and expanding its network and services, and it joins the country-wide provision of High Definition voice technology and the network’s Rural Open Sure Signal programme which increased 3G coverage in rural areas.
So what does 4.5G do?
4.5G or Carrier Aggregation is designed to deliver peak speeds which will be up to three times faster than those currently experienced by Vodafone 4G customers. In network testing engineers saw speeds of 225Mbps, but of course they had the bandwidth to themselves. 4.5G enables Vodafone to leverage its distinct portfolio of radio spectrum – which includes low frequency 800MHz and high frequency 2.6GHz – to provide these faster average speeds to an increased number of users simultaneously.
The new technology makes the best of the pairing of the two frequencies to deliver a more reliable indoor service with faster peak speeds and capacity:
- 800MHz, the low frequency spectrum, travels longer distances and penetrates buildings more easily, allowing better coverage indoors which is where 70% of customers use their mobile device most frequently.
- 2.6GHz, the high frequency spectrum, is suited to smaller, more densely populated geographical areas, and provides the increased capacity and higher speeds.
According to Fergal Kelly, Vodafone UK Technology Director, “This clever technology is the next big step to deliver faster speeds per user and to increase the capacity so more customers can enjoy a great 4G experience when and where they want it.”
The rollout of 4.5G has been in response to research from Vodafone which indicates that their customers value a constant, high speed 4G service indoors – at work or home – as well as outdoors, and that lunchtime through to early evening is the peak time for making and receiving calls as well as streaming video, web browsing, and sending e-mail.
Can I use 4.5G?
Vodafone 4G customers in London, Birmingham and Manchester should be able to make use of 4.5G over the coming weeks as long as they have a compatible handset. The majority of mobile devices support both the 800Mhz and 2.6GHz spectrums so customers should feel the benefit of Carrier Aggregation straight away. There is no extra charge for this and it is included in all Vodafone 4G price plans.
Vodafone isn’t the only 4G network to explore 4.5G. EE has also used Carrier Aggregation to pair 20MHz of its spectrum at 1800MHz and 20MHz at 2.6GHz spectrum to achieve speeds of up to 300Mbps. This was initially launched at Tech City in London earlier in the year, and was extended further across the capital during the summer. Vodafone argues that its version of Carrier Aggregation will be more beneficial as the 800MHz spectrum can travel further than the 1800MHz spectrum.