EE converts 2G airwaves into 4G for ‘even faster speeds’

UK mobile operator EE has announced plans to convert some of its existing 2G airwaves into 4G to further improve the network’s speed and reliability.

More than 600 sites across cities including London, Birmingham, Manchester, Edinburgh and Cardiff, will be upgraded over the next six months. The move is in preparation for devices with CAT-12 and CAT-16 modems to hit the market.

EE’s mobile sites are equipped with 20MHz of 1800MHz spectrum, and 35MHz of 2.6GHz spectrum. Converting – or ‘refarming’ – another 10MHz of 1800MHz spectrum from 2G to 4G will further increase speeds and reliability.

One major benefit of the site upgrades will be the boost to upload speeds, EE claims. The operator expects speeds to double from the current maximum of 50Mbps to up to 100Mbps. This will improve the ability of customers using smartphones which support these speeds to upload work on-the-go and/or post social media videos and images quicker than before.

“Customers need to be on 4G, getting the best out of their new devices with the highest quality phone calls and the fastest mobile data speeds,” says Marc Allera, CEO of EE. “We’re converting 2G into 4G, because that’s what our customers need. So if you are choosing a new smartphone, the message is simple: there’s only one UK network that offers the best smartphone experience.”

The most spectrum in the UK

EE was the first operator to launch 4G services in the UK and continues to invest heavily in its network. Earlier this year, telecommunications giant BT gained regulatory approval to acquire EE.

The BT/EE merger generated controversy due to EE having the largest existing customer base and benefiting further by the ability to offer ‘quad play’ bundles of broadband, cellular, TV, and landline services provided by its new owner.

EE also owned the most spectrum in the UK even prior to adding BT’s allocation:

Three UK, the nation’s smallest mobile operator by subscribers, launched the #MakeTheAirFair campaign in response. Other backers — including TalkTalk, CityFibre, and more — joined the campaign which called on regulator Ofcom to help level the playing field by preventing EE from acquiring more spectrum.

Regulators blocked a Three UK bid to merge with rival O2 over fears a reduction to just three main operators would reduce competition.

What are your thoughts on EE’s latest announcement? Let us know in the comments.

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