Gigabit LTE comes to London

EE and Qualcomm show off mobile download speeds of 765Mbits/sec

4G LTE mobile

Wembley Stadium was home to a speedy display, with EE and Qualcomm unveiling a gigabit 4G LTE connection with top speeds that would shame a home broadband connection.

Our sister title Alphr was on site for the demo, which saw a Sony Xperia XZ Premium hitting download speeds of 765Mbits/sec. The mobile infrastructure duo also promised upload speeds of 110Mbits/sec.

Such shows of speed aren't new to Qualcomm, which displayed gigabit LTE last year in Australia, but it highlights the potential for 4G to provide fast data connections even in crowded London, rather than waiting for 5G or depending solely on fibre broadband.

"Gigabit LTE is not simply about headline data download speeds, it's about bringing real-life benefits to the everyday user, regardless of the device they are using right now, and forms the first major step towards 5G," said Roberto Di Pietro, vice president of business development at Qualcomm Europe, in a statement. "It is exciting to see the culmination of all these technologies coming to life in Europe, as the first commercial devices capable of delivering this incredible user experience start to enter the industry."

To get such speeds using the system, you'll need a phone like the Sony Xperia ZX Premium, or another top end flagship with a 4x4 MIMO antenna array, such as the OnePlus 5.

The network upgrades are already switched on in Cardiff and the part of east London referred to as Tech City, with future upgrades across 2017 and 2018 due in other major UK cities.

"The insatiable desire for ever faster mobile speeds and increased network capacity is a driving force for technologies such as gigabit LTE," said Ben Wood, chief of research at CCS Insight. "It's exciting to see the technology being deployed in the UK providing a clear stepping stone towards 5G technology."

Of course, headline speeds are all well and good as long as providers can deliver on them - a promise that depends on local coverage among other factors. BBC's Watchdog just exposed Virgin Media for advertising broadband speeds of 200Mbps, while some customers managed to eke out just 6Mbps.

London, too, suffers from slow 4G and broadband speeds, according to the London Assembly, whose report this week found that the capital's coverage lags behind that of York, Edinburgh and Coventry.

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