EE revealed plans to refarm 2G spectrum in five major UK cities, a move it stated will prepare its 4G network to match the capabilities of the latest breed of LTE smartphones.
The BT-owned mobile operator said more than 600 2G sites across the UK will be switched to 4G use, with a focus on the cities of Birmingham, Cardiff, Edinburgh, London and Manchester.
Specifically, EE plans to convert 10MHz of 1800MHz spectrum from 2G to 4G, adding to its existing allocation of 20MHz of 1800MHz and 35MHz of 2.6GHz spectrum.
In a statement, EE said the switchover will take place over the next six months, and ready the operator to deliver services to smartphones equipped with LTE modems compliant with Cat-12 and Cat-16 specifications.
“We’re converting 2G into 4G, because that’s what our customers need,” EE CEO Marc Allera (pictured) said, adding the upgrade will enable subscribers to get “the most out of the latest smartphones”.
EE noted more than 1,000 sites in its existing 4G network are capable of delivering LTE Cat-9 services, offering downlink data rates of over 400Mb/s on compatible devices including Samsung’s Galaxy S7 and S8, and Apple’s iPhone 7. Sites using the refarmed 2G spectrum will double the uplink data rate EE can offer to 100Mb/s.
UK regulator Ofcom began the process of amending operators’ licenses to allow them to refarm 2G and 3G spectrum in February 2013. In early 2015, the regulator modified licence terms as part of a broader push to close gaps in the nation’s mobile coverage.