EE first to demonstrate seven carrier aggregation over 4G and 5G for speeds up to 2.2Gbps

EE has successfully tested 7CA (seven carrier aggregation) using 4G and 5G to bring blisteringly fast data speeds to customers in the coming months.

EE Logo

The testing was carried out with EE and Qualcomm, using a flagship Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 powered smartphone with X65 modem. Theoretical speeds of 2.2Gbps can be attained in lab conditions, but ‘in the wild’ this should still offer an incredibly impressive 1.7Gbps according to EE, from a combination of 4G and 5G bands that equates to 170MHz of bandwidth.

Three already offers exceptional data speeds in excess of 1Gbps in some locations that have had 5G added, using 100MHz of 5G spectrum, which means the competition is hotting up.

As ever, such incredible speeds don’t tell the whole story – as higher capacity benefits densely populated areas even for users with more modest needs, but also offering battery savings for file transfers that can be completed quicker at higher speeds.

Carrier aggregation will be essential for 5G in the future, at a time when standalone 5G (SA NR) will be introduced. Without combining 4G, the latency can be significantly cut to benefit applications where any delays can cause issues (from industrial usage to gaming).

EE has been continuing to upgrade its whole network to add more 4G and 5G capacity for some time, and one-time site contributor Peter Clarke has continued to tour the UK to report on the progress. You can be sure that he’ll be one of the first to try out these newly upgraded sites as they go live.

This test was of course part of a collaboration with Qualcomm, but its rival MediaTek has also been releasing many new devices using Dimensity SoCs that also offer carrier aggregation for 5G and multiple carriers for 4G. It’s not clear at this time how these devices may work and the speeds that will be offered, but subscribers won’t necessarily need to have the most expensive smartphone to benefit from a lot of these improvements coming soon.

For clarification, in the lab testing the following carriers were combined to offer the total of 170MHz spectrum:

  • 5 LTE carriers, consisting of 2 x 1800MHz carriers, 1 x 2100MHz carrier, and 2 x 2600MHz carriers.
  • 2 NR carriers, consisting of 3400MHz and 3600MHz.

EE has become the first European network to successfully aggregate a 5G signal using seven different spectrum carriers, including its existing 3.4GHz and new 3.6GHz 5G channels. This breakthrough will deliver new benefits for EE customers, with 5G data speeds topping 2.2Gbps in lab testing and expected real-world speeds of over 1.7Gbps on the network. The innovation means a major boost in 5G network capacity, using a total of 170 MHz of Bandwidth, and could deliver the fastest available 5G in some areas of the UK.

Working in collaboration with Qualcomm Technologies at BT’s Borehamwood lab, the EE network can now deliver a 5G signal using seven radio carriers, including some spectrum EE acquired in Ofcom’s spectrum auction last year. Using five 4G (LTE) carriers and two 5G (New Radio), it is the first time any European network has achieved this feat. A mobile test device featuring the Snapdragon® 8 Gen 1 Mobile Platform with Snapdragon X65 5G Modem-RF System was used to achieve the milestone.

David Salam, Director of Mobile at EE, said:“Our commitment to technology investment and innovation, coupled with our leading 5G footprint, continues to see the EE network offer and sustain the best overall 5G experience in the UK. By pooling our research expertise with Qualcomm Technologies, we have been able to further enhance the EE network and will start to deliver some of Europe’s fastest 5G speeds in our major cities.”  

Vikrant Jain, Director, Business Development at Qualcomm Technologies International, Ltd., said: “We’re proud to have worked with EE to achieve such a notable milestone in the evolution of 5G technology. Aggregating seven (5LTE +2NR) different spectrum bands for 5G is a significant achievement and will provide enhanced customer experience. Qualcomm Technologies would like to congratulate EE as it remains at the forefront of 5G technology innovation.”

EE’s focus is always on providing the highest possible quality of experience. So far, it has launched 5G across hundreds of towns and cities, giving customers faster speeds, leading reliability and near instant connections to content. Last year, EE set out an ambition to deliver 5G connectivity solutions anywhere in the UK by 2028, through a combination of permanent coverage and on demand solutions.

EE Press Release, April 20th 2022

2 thoughts on “EE first to demonstrate seven carrier aggregation over 4G and 5G for speeds up to 2.2Gbps

  1. What isn’t clear from EE’s press release is if the “4G spectrum” normally transmitting LTE, was actually transmitting 5G NR. Otherwise this is just a fairly standard 5G NR mast site with some clever new chip in a phone that can aggreate LTE & NR together more efficiently.

    1. 5 bands were 4G and 2 were 5G. Yes, it is going to be a pretty standard setup soon. In the future some of those 4G bands are going to be refarmed exclusively as 5G, or shared dynamically. I don’t think 5G devices can aggregate that many bands as 5G/standalone yet and this will of course enable Qualcomm and MediaTek to promote new modems in future chipsets.


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