EE refarming 3G frequencies for 4G use; confirms plans to launch 5G in 2019

12 Sep 2018

British mobile network operator EE has announced that it is refarming 2100MHz spectrum that it currently uses for 3G services, at more than 500 mobile towers, which will now be used instead for 4G connectivity. In a press release regarding the development, the BT subsidiary said that over the course of the next six months it will transition the frequencies with a view to enabling ‘the maximum performance on the top smartphones being released in 2018, as more customers demand high speed mobile data connections’. EE noted that by using 2100MHz for 4G services, the upgraded sites will boast five-band carrier aggregation (5CA), while in terms of the locations for the upgrades, the cellco has said the sites where work is to be carried out are ‘where there is the greatest demand for mobile internet’, with these said to mainly spread across the following cities: London, Birmingham, Manchester, Bristol, Exeter, Hull, Nottingham, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Cardiff and Belfast.

Meanwhile, with EE confirming its intention to switch on its 5G network in 2019, the company decision to use 2100MHz frequencies for 4G has been presented as a means of preparing for the launch of the next generation of technology. To that end, the cellco confirmed that it intends to build 5G sites on top of those it has upgraded with ‘the maximum amount of 4G spectrum, in the busiest areas’, namely those locations where it has introduced 5CA.

Commenting on the matter, Marc Allera, CEO of BT’s consumer business unit, said: ‘Our customers want a fast and reliable 4G connection, and that’s what we’re working to give them. We are using the investment we made in 3G spectrum nearly 15 years ago to give customers today a great experience with the latest smartphones on 4G, and build our foundation for 5G in 2019. We’re constantly evolving, and the customer experience of 5G will be dictated by the quality of the 4G network underneath.’

United Kingdom, BT Group (incl. Openreach), EE