EE is to start trialling 400Mbps 4G services, even as it begins edging towards the commercial launch of 300Mbps services in early 2015.
EE started testing 300Mbps last year in Tech City in east London. It said it is now on course to make the service available at some point in the beginning of 2015, with Wembley Stadium the focal point for this launch.
To access 300Mbps services, users will require a Cat 6-enabled smartphone, which supports the necessary spectrum frequencies that EE will be using for the services. Cat 6-enabled smartphones include the iPhone 6, Samsung Galaxy S5 and Galaxy Note 4. The iPhone 6 Plus does not support this speed.
EE network integration director Mansoor Hanif said that while 300Mbps would prove a boost for those who could enjoy it with the necessary devices, the benefits would ripple out to all customers.
“If you have the right device you will be right at the cutting edge, but it also means everybody benefits by using that increased capacity.”
The 300Mbps services will be available in London first, Hanif explained: “We will target areas with higher traffic and that is mostly London; business areas in central London and anywhere else we see high usage of the 4G network."
EE is also working to make sure all mobile phone owners, regardless of network, can enjoy the high speeds in the stadium, with plans for a 'multi-operator system' to be in place by the end of 2015.
Hanif said the availability of 300Mbps would bring the UK almost on par with Asian mobile heavyweights such as South Korea and ahead of the US in the global mobile speed race. Plans for 400Mbps will take the UK into the lead, claimed Hanif.
“Nobody has launched [400Mbps]. Very few can but we will launch it. Before that we will trial it at Wembley. You will need a Cat 9 device to make the most of it and we are working with manufactures to make sure that happens.”
Hanif said one issue that 400Mbps will cause that will need to be tackled is how hot any handset would become if running the necessary kit to achieve these speeds. "Managing the heat on the device is a real engineering puzzle,” he said.
Despite such challenges EE has scheduled the launch of the 400Mbps network by 2016, which would make Wembley the fastest-connected stadium in the world.
As part of its partnership with Wembley Stadium, EE is also going roll out contactless payments and ticketing systems to offer visitors more ways to pay and access events, hopefully reducing queuing times too.
Finally, EE also announced that the iconic Wembley arch has been fitted with 228 LED lights that will change colour based on social media sentiment and key event moments, such as when a goal is scored, or in response to crowd noise.
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