Vodafone eyes LTE-A by middle of 2014

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U.K.-based operator to deploy carrier aggregation in all major cities across its European footprint by March 2016.

Vodafone on Tuesday revealed that it plans to offer LTE-Advanced services to its European customers from the middle of next year.

Detailing the network investments it will make as part of its £7 billion ‘Project Spring’ capex plan at a presentation in London, chief technology officer Stephen Pusey said Vodafone expects to make LTE-A-compatible devices available to customers in Europe “by the middle of next year.” He did not reveal the first locations where Vodafone will offer LTE-A, but said the operator aims to roll out carrier aggregation – a key LTE-A technology – in every major city in its European footprint by March 2016.

By then, Vodafone plans to have deployed 71,000 4G cell sites on top of the 11,000 it has switched on in Europe to date. Of that 71,000, more than half are covered by the £3 billion earmarked for its European networks under Project Spring.

“That is a spectacular build, and it will make a difference,” Pusey said. When it comes to selecting vendors, Pusey said Vodafone already has 4G network agreements in place with a number of suppliers. “They’re already signed up,” he said. “It’s just a case of highlighting the increased volumes to them.”

Vodafone is one of a number of operators to discuss LTE-A recently. Last week, EE announced plans to launch an LTE-A pilot scheme in December for selected businesses in Tech City, east London.

A day later, Zain Kuwait CEO Omar Saud Al-Omar told Total Telecom that the operator plans to offer LTE-A in populated areas in a bid to not only improve the experience for consumers but to also help it crack the enterprise market.