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EE & Nokia Small Cells Enhancing 4G: A Coverage Revolution in Crowded Spaces

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UK operator EE has been working on enhancing its 4G coverage by deploying small cells in various towns and cities across the country. Areas such as Birmingham, Sheffield, and Brighton now benefit from EE’s small cells, which have been designed to increase 4G capacity and reduce congestion in busy locations.

The small cells are often installed on existing street infrastructure, including telephone boxes, lamp posts, and CCTV columns. EE announced a year ago that it had set up 200 of these devices, and since then, the company has rolled out an additional 411 in cities like Swansea, Leicester, and Coventry, as well as high traffic holiday areas like Newquay and Southend-on-Sea.

These small cell sites carry 20TB of data traffic daily, equivalent to streaming 8,000 hours of HD video or 280,000 hours of music. EE uses advanced network analytics to determine the specific locations that would benefit the most from a performance boost. Nokia is then brought in to deploy the 4G small cell, which utilizes its licensed 1800MHz and 2600Mhz spectrum alongside unlicensed 5GHz spectrum.

James Hope, Director of Mobile Radio Access Networks at EE, explained the importance of small cells in their network. “As demand for data continues to rise, small cells are becoming an increasingly integral part of our mobile network. Our partnership with Nokia ensures customers continue to benefit from our fastest 4G speeds even at the busiest times and in the most congested of locations.”

EE intends to deploy hundreds more small cells in the coming months and is also reportedly exploring the possibility of integrating them into its 5G network with Nokia’s AirScale kit upgrade.

Improved coverage and connectivity in crowded areas, such as major cities like London, can significantly enhance the user experience. And it’s not just EE that recognizes the benefits of small cells. Freshwave, a pilot project launched last year, was touted as the first small cell network in the UK capable of hosting all four mobile network operators from day one. Such an approach could be a more efficient solution to enhancing coverage and connectivity in urban areas.

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