Everything Everywhere's spilled more details on its 4G hopes and dreams. That £1.5 billion investment is aiming to get a small scale LTE launch by the end of the year -- subject to Ofcom's say-so. The lucky epicenter of the future of mobile communications in the UK? That'll be Bristol, which will begin its trial on 1800MHz spectrum from April, ahead of a wider launch at the end of 2012. Everything Everywhere has already tested out 800MHz in Cornwall, which is apparently better suited to rural coverage. However, before we hit those dizzying fourth generation speeds, customers on the not-so-unholy union of T-Mobile and Orange will also benefit from more HSPA+ upgrades across the network. Coverage across the network-sharing carriers currently stands at around 60 percent, but Everything Everywhere aims to reach full coverage before the close of 2012. How's that London trial going, O2?
Roll out of 3.5G HSPA+ 21, will mean faster speeds and improved network performance for T-Mobile and Orange customers
Subject to regulatory approval by the spring, Everything Everywhere ready to roll out 4G this year
New trial in Bristol to test 4G LTE using existing 1800MHz spectrum
£1.5bn network evolution project progressing, with £1.4m being invested every day
Everything Everywhere, the UK's biggest communications company, has unveiled significant progress in its network integration and evolution and outlined the path toward the roll out of 4G LTE.
The roll out of a nationwide HSPA+ (3.5G) network – the latest milestone in the company's network evolution project – will provide 50% faster data speeds for T-Mobile and Orange mobile broadband customers. In addition, further trials of 4G technology across the country will continue to lay the foundation for a new digital backbone for Britain.
The announcements underline Everything Everywhere's commitment to building a world class network for consumers and businesses across the UK.
Olaf Swantee, CEO at Everything Everywhere, said:
"Everything Everywhere's vision is to launch 4G for Britain as soon as possible, and the roll out of 3.5G HSPA+ and our 4G trials across Britain are major steps towards delivering on that promise.
"The integration of the Orange and T-Mobile networks has already given our customers the widest 3G coverage in the UK – and I am pleased to say that with our advanced HSPA+ roll out they will also benefit from the fastest.
"I am also very proud to announce that, subject to regulatory approval by the spring, Everything Everywhere will be in a position to begin the roll out of 4G before the end of the year. There is a great opportunity for the UK to have the 21st Century network that it so deserves, putting the nation on a level playing field with other parts of Europe, the USA and Asia."
HSPA+ Network Upgrade
The nationwide roll out of 3G upgrade technology, HSPA+ 21, or 3.5G has already reached 60% of the network and will be completed in Q3 2012. It will deliver an estimated 50% increase in data download speeds (and up to 100% faster for upload of pictures, music and video) for customers with compatible devices, allowing them to take traditionally fixed-line activities, such as HD video streaming, on the move.
In addition to 3.5G HSPA+ 21, trials of HSPA+ 42, which offers significantly faster data transmission than even HSPA+ 21, are due to begin in Q2 with a goal to roll out the technology to customers in Q4 2012.
The first part of "the big switch-on", launched in 2010, saw Orange and T-Mobile customers share 2G signal to make calls and send texts in more places. In October 2011, 3G sharing was introduced, already benefiting over 9 million Orange and T-Mobile customers and resulting in 190 million calls and over 300 million MB of data being used on the non-host network.
From mid-March with completion in mid-May, the final phase of this program will commence. Known as "Smart Signal Share", this will see a customer's smartphone or dongle always give priority to the best 3G signal from either network and allow seamless transfer between the two, meaning customers get access to a 3G signal more of the time.
Everything Everywhere's investment in mobile backhaul, including the introduction of Gigabit Ethernet, announced in December 2011, will also ensure T-Mobile and Orange customers benefit from the fastest and most reliable backbone network in Britain.
The amount of mobile backhaul – the part of the network that connects each mast into the core network servers – is one of the main factors which determine the end speeds experienced by customers. Gigabit Ethernet delivers the highest standard of mobile backhaul, and will ensure Everything Everywhere continues to offer customers a reliable connection irrespective of increased usage of data intensive services such as VoIP, music or movie streaming on the move.
Building a world-class 4G-ready network for the UK
In addition, the UK's first 4G LTE trials over 1800MHz is due to take place in Bristol from April.
The trial will provide Everything Everywhere with key learnings on the performance of 4G LTE over its existing 1800Mhz spectrum in both urban and suburban environments.
The Bristol trial complements Everything Everywhere's live customer trial of 4G technology over 800MHz spectrum in rural Cornwall, launched in September 2011 and recently extended to July 2012. The Cornwall trial has demonstrated that 800 MHz is optimal for the roll out of 4G LTE in rural areas.