EE is rolling out Category 9 LTE speeds to its mobile network, boosting internet performance for those with compatible devices. The service will be first rolled out across London over the coming weeks, before reaching other major UK cities throughout 2016 and 2017.
The first smartphones to take advantage of the new speeds will be the HTC 10, Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge and the Samsung Galaxy Note 7...when it becomes available, that is. Other supported Cat 9 handsets will receive support as and when they become available, making the upcoming iPhone 7 a potential candidate.
Category 9 LTE uses three bands of 4G mobile spectrum to carry traffic over the network, a process known as carrier aggregation. Mobile networks that aggregate multiple blocks of spectrum are classified as LTE-Advanced – or LTE-A – services.
How fast is it?
While Cat 9 LTE devices are technically capable of download speeds of up to 450Mbps, this performance is unlikely outside of a fine-tuned lab setting. Nevertheless, EE said it managed to get 360Mbps on an HTC 10 when it tested its network in a real-world setting at Wembley Arena, which is considerably zippier than current Cat 6 services. To put that in perspective, it has the potential to download an HD movie in a matter of seconds.
EE combines 20MHz of 1800MHz spectrum with 35MHz of 2600MHz spectrum to create 55MHz of spectrum deployed for 4G services, which the operator says is the highest capacity of any UK operator. Following the roll out in central London, Manchester and Birmingham will be the next UK cities to receive the Cat 9 LTE network.
When will it be available?
According to an EE statement the high-speed, high-capacity network will be activated on sites in central London this year starting in east London's Tech City, with further sites being enabled in the UK's busiest cities in 2016 including Birmingham and Manchester throughout 2017.
Marc Allera, CEO of EE, said: "There's no point having the latest smartphones on a network that can't support the top speeds the device is capable of. We've invested in our network to ensure that all of our customers get the most out of the amazing smartphones they have, and can keep up with the highest speeds that the latest devices offer. Unique ability to support world-leading speeds on Cat 9 devices"