Brutal treatment not tried in Europe but could pay dividends
UK mobile operator EE and chip maker Qualcomm Technologies have announced a daring new project to coax a better performance from the network’s brilliant but temperamental star, 5G networks. The collaborators are trying to boost EE’s network capacity by finding a way to broadcast 5G signals over seven combined spectrum carriers. It’s never been done in Europe but if they pull it off EE will delivering the network’s fastest 5G speeds to date, it says.
Great news for new customers
If the spectrum aggregation across both 4G and 5G bands can boost EE’s network capacity, the new technology will be rolled out in major cities this year. However, it will only be supported by the next generation of smartphones. EE claims it’s the first European network to successfully aggregate a 5G signal using seven different spectrum carriers, including its existing 3.4GHz and new 3.6GHz 5G channels.
Bad news if you just bought a phone
This breakthrough will deliver new benefits for EE customers who buy new phones, but’s bad news for the thousands who would have been tempted by EE to start a new contract at Christmas 2021.They will miss out on the new 5G data speeds which topped 2.2Gbps in lab testing and are still expected, in the real-world, to speed data at over 1.7Gbps on the network. The lucky few who timed their upgrades right would enjoy a major boost in 5G network capacity, using a total of 170 MHz of Bandwidth, and luxuriate in the fastest available 5G in some areas of the UK.
How they made it
Working at BT’s Borehamwood lab, the EE network can now deliver a 5G signal using seven radio carriers, including some spectrum EE acquired in Ofcom’s spectrum auction last year. Using five 4G (LTE) carriers and two 5G (New Radio), it is the first time any European network has achieved this feat. The milestone was achieved using a mobile test device processed by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 Mobile Platform in tandem with the Snapdragon X65 5G Modem-RF System. The joint project involved aggregating five long term evolution (LTE) carriers, two using 1.8GHz, one on the 2.1GHz band and two more sending signals on 2.6GHz. In addition, the partners had to sew together two new radio (N) carriers using the 3.4GHz and 3.6GHz bands.
Seven bands are hard to aggregate
“Aggregating seven different spectrum bands for 5G is a significant achievement,” said Vikrant Jain, Qualcomm’s director of business development. “Pooling our research expertise with Qualcomm [means] the EE network will start to deliver some of Europe’s fastest 5G speeds in our major cities,” said David Salam, Director of Mobile at EE.