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What is Vodafone's Carrier Aggregation? Britain gets LTE-A

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Vodafone

LTE Advanced is here, but what does it mean for you?

Vodafone has announced the roll-out of a 4G boost for its customers, utilising something called Carrier Aggregation to improve 4G speeds and stability.

But what exactly is Carrier Aggregation, and is it actually something to get excited about? Well, here's what we know about it so far.

Carrier Aggregation definition

Carrier Aggregation, which is also referred to as LTE Advanced (LTE-A) or 4.5G in some quarters, is a means of attaining higher average 4G data speeds for more users.

It works by utilising two frequency spectrums to provide a more stable data connection. In Vodafone's case that's the 800Mhz and 2.6GHz spectrums.

LTE-A

The benefits

Vodafone's 800MHz frequency travels further and passes through walls and other obstructions easier. On the other hand, the higher 2.6GHz frequency provides greater bandwidth and the potential for higher speeds.

Carrier Aggregation will allow your compatible smartphone to flip between the two as necessary, ensuring the optimal 4G speeds at any given time.

It will mean that more people can access 4G speeds, and indoors access will also be boosted.

Vodafone also boasts of "theoretical peak speeds of up to three times greater than existing 4G speeds," but you'll need a phone specifically geared up to take advantage of these increased speeds. Such phones haven't made their way to the UK as yet.

Availability

Vodafone has started rolling out its Carrier Aggregation technology in a few select UK cities, starting with Birmingham, Manchester, and London. It will be coming to other UK cities throughout the rest of the year and into 2015.

4g

Will your phone support it?

Probably, yes. Most modern 4G smartphones support both the 800GHz and 2.6GHz frequencies, so will be able to see the benefit of Carrier Aggregation - though as stated above, they won't be able to fully exploit the increased speeds on offer.

What about the other networks?

EE, the UK's biggest mobile network and the one that kicked off 4G in this country, has also been testing its own LTE-A network, and should be ready to roll it out before too long.

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