back to article Got 4G? Wake up, grandad. We're doing 4.5G LTE-A in London - EE chief

Olaf Swantee, the CEO of EE, says that his network is planning a scorching 300Mb/s upgrade to its London coverage using the LTE-A (LTE-Advanced) specification. This will roll out in South London first and then to cover the whole of the area within the M25. While Swantee claims that this will make London the place with the …


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  1. GettinSadda

    Obligatory Comment

    300Mbps link, and a 500MB monthly allowance (2GB if you are willing to pay £95 per month on a 10 year lock-in)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Obligatory Comment

      3G?? On EE? Can't remember when it last worked round here.

  2. Dr Stephen Jones

    Whattaya gonna say?

    "EE's principal network architect has recently said that he expecta EE to switch off 3G before 2G"

    You no lika the service? You shaddapaya ya face!

    1. Vince

      Re: Whattaya gonna say?

      Awesome so voice calls go back to sounding horrid and poor on 2G - one of the nicest things about 3G and HD Voice is much better and clearer call quality.

      That'd "differentiate" them (well that and perhaps making usage allowances meaningful at those speeds)

      1. Steve Todd

        Re: Whattaya gonna say?

        They should have voice running over the 4G network before then, which should support HD audio.

      2. timthorn

        Re: Whattaya gonna say?

        No, voice calls go to 4G - EE expects to roll out VoLTE soon. He didn't suggest that 3G was being turned off imminently, and as I recall the comment (I believe made at a meeting in Cambridge) was explicitly stated to be a personal opinion.

  3. Davie Dee

    Anyone else starting to think things are getting a bit fragmented, I mean why not lets roll out a CDMA network as well as GSM just to confuse consumers that little bit more.

    Perhaps im getting old but HSPA is plenty for most stuff, I would much rather they sort out their shit coverage of 2G and 3G across the country then add more variation to the mix. Yes yes 4G is so much "better" but can we honestly say its better when we are getting to the point where we have to make sure our phones will connect to our networks before we get them and we cant swap carriers because we are tied to coverage and spectrum limitations.

    I dunno, its all starting to get a bit daft if you ask me.

    1. jonathanb Silver badge

      One of the main benefits of 4G vs 3G is actually better coverage, so it would be stupid to work on improved 3G coverage when there is a better way to do it.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        But for many of us locked into 3G phone contracts with shit 3G coverage and NO proposed 4G rollout we'd rather they fix the pile of shit their 3G network is before rolling out a 4G network which will probably be as broken as the 3G currently is

      2. Davie Dee

        my understanding is that you will have just a crap signal on 4G as 3G the only difference being (like 802.11N) you get higher throughput. Those carriers with a lower spectrum block for 4G should have a better coverage, those with a higher spectrum block than 3G will be worse, those that use existing 3G spectrum will have exactly the same level of connectivity only at a higher throughput. Yes throughput will be higher for any given signal level, but the point remains that when I want to make a phone call and ive already dropped to a 2/3 bar GPRS signal, there is no amount of 3G/4G that will help me out so they should sort the existing NETWORK out, plug the gaps and give us a minimal level of coverage, don't start fannying about with new tech until you can get he basics right.

  4. Rathernicelydone

    I have a company phone which uses the EE network and at peak times at Paddington mobile Internet is completely unusable. Perhaps EE should focus on better peak time capacity management since it is pointless having fast Internet access if the local cell is completely saturated.

    1. Steve Todd

      This would be a 3G phone then? I had the same problem with Three next to Liverpool Street. The 3G networks are completely saturated in parts of London. 4G is much better. Even now that they've had plenty of time to add users it's still giving better than 3Mbit/sec download speeds and I've seen it peak at 49Mbit/sec.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: 3G networks are completely saturated

        "The 3G networks are completely saturated in parts of London. 4G is much better. "

        Q1: How long do you think that 4G's superiority will last? Are you just seeing "early adopter" advantage while they get people hooked?

        Q2: Is it the RF side of things that's saturated, or is it the backhaul between base station and outside world that's saturated? If it's using separate backhaul for 3G vs 4G, and it's backhaul that's full, 3G vs 4G is neither here nor there, it'll get saturated soon enough (assuming enough suckers fall for it this time round).

      2. Ol'Peculier
        Thumb Up

        I've managed 52.78 on EE in the centre of London, but just 38.52 in York which you would think would be less congested (although it was a Friday night with the students and LibDem lot out and about)

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Its a bit of the devil or the deep blue sea with coverage and saturation. In London, I'm used to being able to get coverage pretty much anywhere I go, notwithstanding the saturation during work hours around the major stations.

      What really shocks me though is how poor coverage is once you get even a short way out of town. Major towns are well enough covered, as are most railway lines and large roads, but anything in between seems to be more blackspot than hot spot - Kent south of Orpington is a joke, and doesn't seem to have got a lot better since I last lived there 20 years ago. Three is particularly bad, but Voda doesn't seem much better, and even if you squeak a choppy voice connection, data is like as not 2g.

      Stansted airport, on the other hand, in spite of the fact you would think the required capacity would be pretty predictable seems to be impossible to get a connection of any kind at all, even when its only moderately busy.

      Networks are always banging on about investing their rapacious profits in capacity and coverage, but where (apart from the oasis of South Kensington) exactly are the improvements?

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "it's rumoured for the next iteration of the iPhone, but then pretty much everything gets rumoured for iPhones"

    YUP! The only truth being it so over the hill! iPhone is your old uncle who was once cool.

    1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

      Hello Grandad!

      Like it or not (and you probably won't like it) the iPhone is that standard by which other phones are measured. So what is a gazillion Androids are sold for every iPhone. A good number of those Android devices will never, ever be able to use 4G let alone anything higher spec'd.

      I'm far from a cool person. More like Grumpy old git if you ask me. I use an iPhone because it is my company phone. For personal use I have an old non smart Nokia.

      I have to admit that from my limited experience, the iPhone does everything I need it to do OOTB whereas I was always fighting with my Android Phone. In the it bricked itself when trying to load an updated cyanogen release. I am sure a top of the range Samsung would do just as well as the iPhone but it really does not matter to me as long as the device does what I want it to.

      But hey, don't let realism cloud your hatred for Apple.

      1. Timmay

        Re: Hello Grandad!

        You said: "my Android Phone. In the it bricked itself when trying to load an updated cyanogen release"

        You meant: "my Android phone. I bricked it when I unlocked the bootlocker and rooted it, thus voiding the warranty, and installed a third-party/unsupported operating system"

        I had an iPhone once. Loved it, but it broke when I smashed it to pieces with a hammer. Piece of shit.

        1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

          Re: Hello Grandad!

          Funny that you criticise me for choosing to get rid of the crap Android release (2.3) on my phone and instal something a lot more usable and free from the HTC installed crap.

          As for the warranty, the phone was almost two years old. I discovered that there were some 'oddities' in the bootloader that cause the bricking. An older version of the same phone had the same operation done by me and it worked perfectly.

          The HTC crap I talk about is things like Facebook and twitter apps that can't be deleted or even stopped from running.

          There are a lot of really poor Android phones out there. The race to the bottom on price will in the end hurt the Android brand.

          As I said, I use an iPhone because it is a company phone. I could use my own phone for company business but there is no way I can reclaim the cost of calls made on my own phone because a company phone has been offered to me. Even the most rabid fandroid can see that it makes sense to use the iPhone and save myself money.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Fur coat and no knickers.

    Servicedesk calls for mobile related issues have shot through the roof since a corporate switch from Vodafone to EE - poor indoor coverage, calls dropping, 'call failed', painfully slow data despite a 'good' signal etc etc.

    Perhaps rather than thinly-spreading their 4G coverage beyond the M25 and focusing on headline-friendly speeds within, EE should get the basics right. Until then, I guess I'll have to rely on my personal phone for corporate calls :-/

    1. Roland6 Silver badge

      Re: Fur coat and no knickers.

      >a corporate switch from Vodafone to EE

      Your experiences seem very similar to what happened with 3G initially, which were probably caused in part by the corporates being encouraged to be early adopters of 3G, whereas many existing customers largely remained on the established 2G network. I suspect that if you restricted your new shiny 4G device to 2G/3G services, you may find service reliability improves.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Fur coat and no knickers.

        Hey, thanks for the suggestion made there, however, what I didn't mention is that many of these complaints are from users with EE's "bundled" cheap, nasty, 2G only Nokia handset.

        The rest of the devices, mainly BlackBerrys, are restricted to 2G/3G only - we have not paid the '4G tax', so do not receive 4G.

        Oh, and don't even get me started on how bl**dy unreliable the BlackBerry services have become since the switch! EE say "It's your BES", then I say "So why do our handful of Vodafone BBs still work OK". Erm...

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Fur coat and no knickers.

          "Hey, thanks for the suggestion made there, however, what I didn't mention is that many of these complaints are from users with EE's "bundled" cheap, nasty, 2G only Nokia handset."

          As another corporate victim of EE, I'd confirm that the 3G network is pants.

    2. Timmay

      Re: Fur coat and no knickers.

      Weird, I used to have both a work Vodafone iPhone, and my personal Three Xperia Z - I would frequently look at the iPhone and it rather desperately reported "Searching..." while the Xperia was on a few bars of signal with H+ data. Never did I see it the other way around.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Got 4G ?

    Well yes ... but no.

    Have a 4G capable handset (Blackberry Z10) and am subscribed to Vodafone who are supposed to be one of the providers with widest coverage of 4G, yet I never seem to get a 4G connection anywhere in London, the place with the best 4G coverage of all.

    The phone is usually showing 'H' (HSPA, eg 3G) or 'E' (Edge, also 3G) ...sometimes falling back to venerable old GSM modes. Have been keeping an eye out for the long awaited 'L' (LTE, 4G) mode but never seen it ... the phone only ever said '4g' once.

    I wonder if this is a handset issue. Originally the BB10 claimed to support 1800 and 2600 MHz but not 800, which is one of the main bands that Vodafone rolled out ... I note that the Z10 now includes 800MHz in its quad-band LTE support, so wondering if its been tweaked since my phone was manufactured ...

    1. Arnold Lieberman

      Re: Got 4G ?

      "The phone is usually showing 'H' (HSPA, eg 3G) or 'E' (Edge, also 3G) ...sometimes falling back to venerable old GSM modes. Have been keeping an eye out for the long awaited 'L' (LTE, 4G) mode but never seen it ... the phone only ever said '4g' once."

      EDGE is not 3G.


      EDGE/EGPRS is implemented as a bolt-on enhancement for 2.5G GSM/GPRS networks, making it easier for existing GSM carriers to upgrade to it. EDGE is a superset to GPRS and can function on any network with GPRS deployed on it, provided the carrier implements the necessary upgrade. EDGE requires no hardware or software changes to be made in GSM core networks. EDGE-compatible transceiver units must be installed and the base station subsystem needs to be upgraded to support EDGE. If the operator already has this in place, which is often the case today, the network can be upgraded to EDGE by activating an optional software feature. Today EDGE is supported by all major chip vendors for both GSM and WCDMA/HSPA.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Got 4G ?

        "EDGE is not 3G."

        I don't really care about the specifics of EDGE. The point is, its not 4G.

    2. BigAndos

      Re: Got 4G ?

      Sounds like you might have a handset issue. I have a Samsung Galaxy S4 with a 4G contract from Vodafone and i actually get pretty good coverage over most of London! There are a few black spots but in general I've gotten a 4G connection with 10 - 55 Mbps depending on time of day and specific location.

      A few weeks ago my BT internet died at home, I set up my phone as a personal hotspot and had two ipads connected to it surfing the web while my laptop was streaming HD iPlayer without the connection breaking a sweat!

      Now if only they'd sort out their network (even 3G) outside of London...

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Got 4G ?

      "am subscribed to Vodafone who are supposed to be one of the providers with widest coverage of 4G"

      Vodafone have about 30% population coverage on 4G, EE hit 70% last month.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Got 4G ?

      Have Vodafone rolled out the 10.2.1 OS update for their BB 10 devices? It might make a difference.

      Some time ago my daughter's Z10 (which is on 3) seemed to leave the network selection to 3G/2G, and once it changed it back after it was set to 4G/3G/2G. Worth a look see I'd say...

  8. DrXym Silver badge

    What's the point?

    Being able annihilate an entire month's data limit in the space of a few minutes isn't very useful to anybody.

  9. Rob Crawford

    2 months on 4G (or is it really 3.5G?)

    I switched from T-Mobile to EE (well it's not really a switch) and I have to say that my coverage has improved and I happily get 4G connectivity in work and at home (previously I was lucky to get 3G at all in work)

    However elsewhere it's all 3G and I can't see 3G being switched off for years, as for good old GSM I can't see it ever leaving.

  10. scrishton

    Meanwhile my EE home broadband limps along at a 'scorching' 400kbs. It won't load odd websites such as Google, won't connect to my email server, and won't load some pages of their own website -notably the customer complaints section.

    My EE home phone line is hissy and crackly and often won't take DTMF dialling. Tried calling their helpline on my antique Type 200 bakelite phone with pulse dialling. Got as far as "to report a fault press 1". Bugger.

    So phone the helpline on my EE iphone 5s. Got through the bit about how important my call is to them, and how they are exceptionally busy with the usual unusual number of calls, then eventually to a technical help desk who's VOIP phone system is so heavily compressed as to be just about unreadable. Please hold the line while... Please wait... Just putting you on hold... There's an external fault which will take 3 to 4 days. Just like they said three to four days ago for the last three to four weeks.

    So my contract which started with Orange about nineteen and a half years ago will sadly not reach twenty years. Good luck with the 4.5G 300Mbs service, but if you can't provide the basic service there's no place for you in the communications business


    1. Alan_Peery

      Sounds like your ADSL filter may be misplaced

      Even if you're sure it's in the right place, check. Mine got knocked out while Christmas lights were being plugged in, and it took me a while to spot it.

      1. scrishton

        Re: Sounds like your ADSL filter may be misplaced

        Thanks, but I've already replaced the filter. And the cable. And the router. Time to replace the ISP.

  11. Ol'Peculier

    Would be nice if they actually connected the rest of the country to 4G.

    1. feanor

      Hang on, I haven't got 3G yet!

  12. ukgnome

    Whilst I do a happy dance when my phone tells me its on 4G its mainly because where I actually live I don't actually get 2G. Now you may say that's because I live in a quaint village on the Norfolk broads, and that is true. But seriously it's 2014, and about time EE realised that the country isn't surrounded by the M25.

  13. Mage

    There is no 4.5G

    Even LTE isn't much more than 3G really. They fudged the definitions to market WiMax and LTE as 4G.

    It's 4G and the speeds in Marketing are fantasy.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: There is no 4.5G

      Do you want to tell that to my Nexus 7 that is on EE, which regularly pisses on my fibre line for speed?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: There is no 4.5G

      Congrats to EE on releasing the first real UK mobile 4G network, aka LTE-A or Release 10 if only in London, and 3.5G AKA LTE in a couple of other places.

      I guess you would need to be hitting Release 13 or 14 of the 3GPP specifications to be classed as 4.5G

      Some 3G coverage would be appreciated now though. Hell in some places even a 2G signal would be nice.

  14. Neil 44

    2G will outlive 3G

    Lots of "hidden" services (like electric meters) use the 2G network, so the phone companies will be prevailed on to keep it.

    I left EE because their 3G coverage was rubbish wherever I went though I do see my Three service sometimes roaming to them nowadays in the few places where the Three network isn't.

    Maybe I'll get a phone that supports 4G one day...

  15. Simon Rockman

    4G is 3G (ish)

    The official name for what we call 4G is 3G Long term evolution. This is because the 3GPP committee which set the standards only had a 3G remit. What came beyond 3G wasn't to be discussed.

    So they called it a flavour of 3G just to be allowed to talk about it. 4.5G is just something we made up for a good headline.

  16. Mike01Hu

    Switch off 3G before 2G???

    It would be nice to have 3G here in little America.(Lakenheath UK). EE, nee Orange, have always said that 3G coverage was 100% here but they never came along to try it!

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