UK MOBILE OPERATOR EE has announced plans to refarm 3G spectrum for 4G in a bid prepare for its much-hyped launch of 5G mobile services next year.
Over the next six months, the BT-owned operator will convert the 2100MHz band into 4G at more than 500 mobile towers to "enable the maximum performance on the top smartphones being released in 2018" - no doubt a nod to the soon-to-be-announced iPhone XR, iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max.
By using the 3G 2100MHz spectrum to power 4G, EE will give the upgraded sites five 'carriers' of 4G, which it boasts is more than any other operator in the UK.
Towers set to an upgrade are located in the busiest parts of EE's network, including London, Birmingham, Manchester, Bristol, Exeter, Hull, Nottingham, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Cardiff and Belfast.
As well as keeping the operator on track to power down 3G by 2020, EE claims the move also readies it for its planned launch of 5G service in 2019.
While the firm's latest commitment is somewhat vague, EE confirmed earlier this year that it wants to be the first UK operator to launch commercial 5G services, with BT CEO Gavin Patterson telling analysts last week that the firm plans to beat its rivals to the punch.
"We will look to have a commercial 5G product launched in the next 18 months," he said back in May.
EE, which was also first to launch 4G services in 2012, already has a headstart on its rivals when it comes to spectrum. In this year's spectrum auction, the firm maintained its lead after picking up 40MHz of 3.4GHz spectrum, adding to its existing 255Mhz.
Mark Allera, CEO of BT's consumer biz, swooned: "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." µ
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