EE doubling UK 4G speed: 80Mbps peak in ten city summer trial

4G carrier EE has announced plans to double the speed of its UK LTE network, taking peak downloads to as much as 80Mbps+ in ten locations by summer 2013. The "turbocharged 4G" trial – which, if successful, will see the network boost rolled out to all across EE's service – should see an average download rate per user of 20Mbps, the carrier says, and is part of a number of enhancements EE plans for its service in the near future.

The first ten cities to get the double-speed LTE are Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds, Liverpool, London, Manchester, and Sheffield. Trials in Cardiff have already been underway, with EE seeing higher than 80Mbps rates in its own testing; in a perfect, lab setting, the system could go as high as 130Mbps, though that would never be achieved in the wild.

To achieve all that, EE is doubling the 1800MHz spectrum its 4G service can use, up to 20Mhz. That means not only higher speeds but more capacity, something the carrier says will be vitally important as 4G adoption increases: its research suggests data traffic over the next three years will jump by up to 750-percent.

In response to the expected climb in demand, EE will also be trialling carrier aggregation before the end of the year, part of the LTE-Advanced feature set, which joins together spectrum in different bands for more performance. That will see the carrier make use of its newly-acquired spectrum holdings, bought in the recent UK 4G auction, in the 800MHz and 2.6GHz frequencies.

Meanwhile, there are also plans for voice over Wi-Fi (VoWi-Fi) along with video and voice calls over 4G/LTE (VoLTE), though there's no timeline for their launch. The speed improvements will come at no extra cost to subscribers, as EE prepares itself for rival UK networks launching their own 4G service, something expected to happen within a matter of months.