A trial of next generation 4G category 9 by Huawei, EE, and Qualcomm has apparently achieved download speeds of over 410Mbps, indicating that we’re only just starting to see the potential of 4G.
The trial of LTE category 9 technology is thought to be the first successfully completed trial of its kind in Europe. It was a joint venture between the UK’s largest 4G network EE, Chinese manufacturer Huawei, and US chipmaker Qualcomm. The tests used a Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 processor with integrated LTE-Advanced next-generation modem, and Huawei’s commercial infrastructure solution, across the 4GEE network.
The trial produced good news for EE as it opens up the possibility not only of achieving ever faster 4G download speeds, but also of increasing capacity using carrier aggregation. This will allow the network to use different spectrum types as one pipe, even if they are not next to one another. During this trial 20MHz of 1800MHz spectrum was aggregated with 20MHz of 2.6GHz, and a further 15MHz of 2.6GHz. We don’t know when this network is likely to be deployed in the UK but EE has suggested that these superfast speeds will be demonstrated during a test event at London’s Wembley Stadium in 2015.
According to Tom Bennett, director of network services and devices at EE, “Working closely with the excellent teams at Qualcomm Technologies and Huawei on the next generation LTE Category 9 connectivity enables us to make full use of our spectrum holdings, and continue to offer world class network capabilities, innovating to stay one step ahead of operators in Europe.”
To put the trial into context the most advanced 4G available in the UK is LTE category 4, which provides speeds of up to 150 Mbps in London. However, there aren’t yet many devices available that will support cat 4. Average 4G speeds in the UK are 15.1Mbps, according to Ofcom, so an improvement on this scale would be a giant leap forward.
According to Enrico Salvatori, senior vice president & president of Qualcomm Europe, “We are excited to work with EE and Huawei in ushering in the latest evolution of wireless connectivity. Transitioning from Category 6 to Category 9 LTE-A connectivity will mean 1.5x faster peak download speeds, swift application response times, reliable connectivity and connections to the fastest networks.”
The latest trials will have improved the position of EE, which is currently in exclusive talks with BT. It is reported that BT are looking to buy the 4G network, which has approximately 24.5 million customers, for the price of £12.5 billion. BT is keen to acquire a mobile network to supplement its fixed line services, and most people had expected them to buy back O2, but it seems likely that a deal will soon be reached with EE. Such a deal would see BT become a quad-play operator, offering fixed line, broadband, TV, and mobile services to its customers, something that has been lacking in the UK up to now with this type of bundle only being available from Virgin Media.