Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2013/04/09/ee_4g/

EE extends network: Soon, 1 million users will pay us for 4G

No really... We've doubled the speed and everything

By Bill Ray

Posted in Mobile, 9th April 2013 14:04 GMT

A million mobile subscribers will be paying the 4G premium on EE's network by year's end, according to the operator. EE is doubling its network's speed in 10 UK cities so it can keep boasting about being the UK's fastest provider.

The million subscribers will be eight per cent of EE's customer base, which it reckons is a decent migration rate for 14 months of 4G. EE charges a premium of around 10 per cent for its 4G service. For that, the lucky residents of the 10 selected cities will get average speeds of 20Mb/sec - twice that offered on the rest of EE's 4G network.

The speed boost is facilitated by the simple expedient of doubling the radio spectrum used, from 10MHz slots to 20MHz slots. This is possible because EE still owns massive amounts of spectrum and has plenty of room to manoeuvre.

LTE, the 4G technology of choice, is wonderfully flexible in slot size, particularly when compared to 3G which demands an immutable 5MHz slice. LTE networks can dynamically change slot size and even vary it during a connection to take advantage of unoccupied frequencies. LTE can also narrow slots down to accommodate additional users, which is the main way it achieves such high headline speeds.

For EE's 20MHz slots that headline speed is 80Mb/sec, but even EE wouldn't claim that's achievable in the real world. They're promising the "average" will double up to 20Mb/sec, though that will be entirely dependent on how many connections it's handling at a given moment.

We still don't know how many customers are trying to use it, as EE has only said it plans to have a million signed up by Christmas - not how many more it needs to achieve that number. We are promised "updates on its progress ... in upcoming announcements" so we'll bring you those when they arrive.

If you live in Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds, Liverpool, London, Manchester or Sheffield, and are with EE, then this is probably good news for you.

Mostly this is about getting one up on the other network operators and clinging to the "fastest" title, to go with the "biggest" one. ®