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EE 4G in London gets a speed boost, but not on iPhone

The alliterative operator's "4G+" tech is LTE Advanced, which the network claims offers real-world speeds of up to 90Mbps.

Luke Westaway Senior editor
Luke Westaway is a senior editor at CNET and writer/ presenter of Adventures in Tech, a thrilling gadget show produced in our London office. Luke's focus is on keeping you in the loop with a mix of video, features, expert opinion and analysis.
Luke Westaway
2 min read
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Capital-dwelling customers on EE are getting a 4G speed boost, as the UK operator turns on LTE-Advanced network tech on the second anniversary of its 4G service going live.

4G mobile data has existed in other countries like the US for several years now, but in the UK it launched two years ago today. EE was the first UK network to offer 4G, which gets you faster mobile data to your phone, for faster Web browsing and downloads.

The new mobile data boost -- which EE is calling "4G+" and claims will offer real-world speeds of up to 90Mbps -- has been achieved by combining 20MHz slices of bandwidth from the network's 1,800MHz and 2.6GHz bands.

It's only available in central London for now, specifically Shoreditch, Old Street, Southbank, Soho, Westminster and Kensington, but will spread across the capital and to other major UK cities next year, EE says. You'll also need to be on one of EE's higher-speed 4GEE Extra plans, or a corporate 4GEE plan.

The bad news is that not many phones are compatible with the LTE-Advanced tech. Indeed, EE says it's only currently flogging two compatible mobiles, the Samsung Galaxy Alpha and Galaxy Note 4 . That means owners of all the other 4G phones, including the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, will be stuck on boring old normal 4G.

"iPhone 6 and 6 Plus are equipped with Cat 4 radios, which are swift in themselves and can offer up to 150Mbps," Ernest Doku, mobile analyst at uSwitch, told CNET, "but Cat 6 receivers like those found in the Samsung pair actually straddle both spectrums at once, which allows the (theoretical) 300Mbps top speeds that 4G+ offers.

"For now at least -- it seems like a hardware constraint, which will prevent Apple owners from joining the superfast lane."

There is some good news for owners of non-compatible 4G phones, as EE claims that the extra bits of spectrum used for 4G+ will free up space on its normal 4G channels, hopefully edging up normal 4G speeds as data hogs move to the new channels.