By Daniel Hunter

EE, the UK’s most advanced digital communications company, is today (Tuesday) switching on the fastest 4G mobile network in the world.

The network — running LTE-Advanced technology and which is capable of reaching 300Mbps speeds — will initially cover London’s Tech City, with companies in the area being selected to access it first.

This latest EE network innovation follows the company’s internal analysis of consumer and business trends, which forecasts a data-usage rise of 750% over the next three years. Such an unprecedented rise in usage means that a broad portfolio of mobile spectrum is essential for operators wanting to deliver a great customer experience for consumers and businesses in the near future.

The network is being unveiled today by EE CEO Olaf Swantee at the Huawei Global Mobile Broadband Forum in London. Huawei is EE’s 4G technology partner for this world-leading mobile innovation.

EE CEO Olaf Swantee said: “Today we are introducing the next age of 4G mobile technology to the UK. Our existing 4G network delivers incredible mobile data speeds and covers millions of people across the country, but we never stand still. We know that mobile data usage is going to keep increasing, and rapidly so.

“Our analysts predict that data usage will grow significantly over the next three years. In fact, our trend-mapping shows that data usage is set to rise by 750% in that period, as consumers and companies conduct more of their business and lives on-line.

“The network we’re switching on today in Tech City uses the spectrum that we acquired in the Ofcom spectrum auction earlier this year, and is the first part of an infrastructure that can meet the future demands of an increasingly data-hungry nation, enabling us to stay one-step ahead of the demand.”

The EE 300Mbps 4G network covers Tech City from launch, and will be rolled out across London throughout 2014. In December, local companies from the Tech City area will be selected to become exclusive EE partners, enabling them to experience the service before it becomes commercially available when compatible devices launch from mid-2014.

The speed and capacity of the EE 300Mbps network will create new business opportunities, more efficient and flexible ways of wireless working, and changes in the way in which content is consumed and created on the go.

The amount of capacity within the 4G network enables the extension of vital, high-data business applications, such as ERP and SAP, to become cloud-based, offering enterprises increased efficiency and flexibility. Financial institutions in particular — often reliant upon transferring large volumes of data — can benefit enormously from this flexibility. Increased bandwidth across the network also enables a new approach to outside broadcast for media companies, as a small number of 4G SIMs can replace an entire satellite truck and the rental of a satellite connection.

For consumers, the future of mobile is about connecting more devices, accessing more real-time information, and sharing higher definition images and videos. The emergence of wearable technology, for example, will continue to increase consumer usage of data across multiple connected products. In consumer entertainment, ultra high definition 4K TV is the future, and LTE-A makes it possible to support that on a mobile network. BBC iPlayer streams at 5Mbps, whereas 4K TV will stream at 20Mbps, so a consistently high average speed, enabled by sufficient capacity on the network, is essential.

The new network innovation, which has a theoretical maximum speed of 300Mbps, is enabled by carrier aggregation — bringing together 20MHz of 1800MHz spectrum and 20MHz of 2.6GHz spectrum. This is a fundamental feature of LTE-Advanced, and more features will be trialled throughout 2014 to extend EE’s global network leadership.

The LTE-Advanced device ecosystem is developing quickly to ensure that there are mobile broadband units and handsets capable of utlising this network capability. The EE selected user programme will launch using a CAT6 Huawei router — the first device of its kind in the world. The device can provide a high speed mobile Wi-Fi connection to up to twenty devices, and devices enabled with 802.11ac can access speeds as high as 200Mbps.

It is expected that the first commercially available Mobile Wi-Fi units will be introduced by summer 2014, also by Huawei, with handsets to follow in the second half of the year.

EE has just passed its first birthday, and already has over 1.2million 4G customers, and a 4G network that covers 131 towns and cities — approximately 60% of the population. New price plans that went live last week made 4G available from £18.99 per month, offer consumer and small business data bundles up to 50Gb, and introduced the first pay as you go 4G to the market.

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