Mobile broadband has not run out of tricks just yet, millions are still to see what all the fuss about 4G is about, with calls for operators to fix 3G featuring regularly in online comments. The latest development is that Huawei has partnered with EE to launch a LTE Advanced (up to 300 Mbps) network in the area of Tech City.
The first customer trials should start in December, once EE has finished its own playing during November and the focus will be on mobile Wi-Fi for offices in the Tech City area. Once 2014 gets underway the coverage area will gradually increase across London, and therefore may give those who have missed out on Openreach and Virgin Media fibre based services the chance for something faster.
"Today is about introducing the next age of 4G mobile technology to the UK. Our existing 4G network delivers incredible mobile data speeds and covers millions of people across the country, but we never stand still – we know that mobile data usage is going to keep increasing, and rapidly so. The network we’re switching on today in Tech City is the first part of an infrastructure that can meet the future demands of increasingly data-hungry consumers and businesses, and enable completely new ways of doing business."Olaf Swantee, Chief Executive Officer
LTE Advanced makes such a big difference as it makes use of 2x2 MIMO technology to use multiple masts and can make more efficient use of the radio spectrum i.e. letting devices use 20 MHz down at 1800 MHz and also the 20 MHz at 2.6 GHz. While the headline speed is 300 Mbps, it is expected that speed tests in the region of 60 Mbps will be more the norm.
Handsets and mobile broadband devices are somewhat sparse at this time for LTE Advanced, mainly because this deployment is at the cutting edge of mobile broadband and thus ahead of the curve. Huawei are promising commercially available hardware very soon.
For those wanting the 3G fixed first, the reason this does not happen is that 3G has very limited bandwidth and session limits per mobile tower in the wireless segment, whereas 4G services address these problems in theory and should perform better for some years. The only problem for most of the public is that providers see 4G as a premium service, meaning millions who are budget watching will still be on 3G in a few years time.