Europe Accelerating Cellular Upgrade to LTE and LTE-Advanced
The drive to upgrade cellular networks to LTE is not limited to the United States, of course. Indeed, activity in Europe on LTE and LTE-Advanced—as the name implies, the next iteration of the protocol—appears to be accelerating.
British carrier EE seems to be active on both LTE and LTE-Advanced. TechWeekEurope reported today that the carrier has begun offering LTE services in 10 more locales—including Ipswitch and Dundee—and will add 19 in the short period before Christmas. They will bring the total to 160 towns and cities, the company said.
The first device to take advantage of these faster speeds is the CAT6 Huawei router, which can tether with up to twenty phones and tablets each reaching speeds up to 200Mbps. Huawei LTE-A dongles will go on sale to the public by summer 2014, with LTE-A phones to follow in the second half of the year.
PCWorld noted EE's LTE-A test and said that two operators in Germany have announced trials. Vodafone's will be in Dresden and Telefónica's in Munich:
All three are taking advantage of a feature called carrier aggregation to improve speeds. It allows networks to devote more resources to some users by treating two channels in the same or different frequency bands as if they were one. The amount of frequencies used decides the maximum bandwidth. EE is using two times 20MHz to reach 300Mbps, while Vodafone and Telefónica are using one 10MHz channel plus one 20MHz channel for up to 225Mbps.
The story says LTE-A at this point only is commercially available in Russia and South Korea and that broader rollouts are slated for next year
Things are happening on the Continent as well. ZDNet reports that Vodafone—using some of the proceeds from Verizon's $130 billion purchase of its share of the companies' U.S. partnership—is accelerating completion of its Dutch LTE network from December 2016 to April 2015. Currently, the carrier offers LTE services to about 500,000 people in five cities.
Holland is quite competitive. T-Mobile, which the story said announced LTE launches in Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Utrecht and parts of The Hague, trails Vodafone right now. But, the story said, T-Mobile has embarked on a more aggressive schedule.
Carriers in Europe face the same complicated and quick rollouts as their colleagues elsewhere: LTE networks continue to turn up while the next iteration exists in the labs. The good news is that the sector was aware that the follow-on technology would emerge relatively quickly. The upgrades should be manageable.