UK number one operator EE aims to offer commercial LTE-Advanced (LTE-A) services in London early next year, with the company also set to begin trialling services using its 800MHz spectrum later in 2014.
The LTE-A launch timeframe appears to have been pushed back. Earlier this year CEO Olaf Swantee told Mobile World Live the company planned to offer LTE-Advanced services in central London by the end of this summer, with a wider London launch to follow.
Speaking this morning, Tom Bennett, director of network services & devices for the operator, noted that an ongoing LTE-A pilot, covering the UK capital’s Tech City area, involved “a lot of engineering effort, and a wonderful showcase, but ultimately it’s not commercial.”
“Now we have the maturity we need to go forward with that. We are looking for LTE-A in the London area probably by the start of next year,” he continued.
The executive also noted that in addition to offering peak theoretical speeds of up to 300Mb/s for users with compatible devices, the LTE-A trial has also showed that the technology can deliver benefits for other subscribers.
This is because compatible devices often switched to EE’s less congested 2.6GHz spectrum, in-turn freeing-up space in its main 1.8GHz band.
“Rolling out this Cat 6 (LTE-A) technology improves the level of service for our other subscribers,” he said.
Bennett did not detail how EE would be marketing the service, but indicated that the touted 300Mb/s speeds are unlikely to make an appearance. “It’s lab speeds,” he said.
And while much of the focus with existing LTE rollouts has been on consumer markets, the executive said that LTE-A is “something to offer in the business space.”
With regard to device availability, Bennett would not be drawn on details, but said that “we wouldn’t be rolling LTE-A if we didn’t think it was coming”.
Enrico Salvatori, SVP and president of Qualcomm Europe, noted that support for LTE-A is “already part of the flagship roadmap” for device maker customers.
Leading the way is Samsung, which recently announced an LTE-A version of its flagship Galaxy S5 smartphone.