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EE’s packed 4G network suffers speed decline

EE’s 4G speeds are going south after increasing sign ups have caused the company’s fastest service to show signs of traffic congestion with Vodafone touted to eventually hold the cards in the 4G market.

Related: An early guide to the UK’s best 4G LTE: EE vs Vodafone vs O2 vs Three

RootMetrics CEO Bill Moore told PC Pro that the network operator is suffering from a combination of high customer numbers and the fact that other companies are starting to catch up in the 4G stakes thus meaning that its position as number one is under threat.

"We've started to see some EE slow down... and we're seeing a speed up on all the other networks because they've [now] got LTE," said Moore. "It's a bit of a rollercoaster. It's going to ebb and flow."

The situation is said by Moore to mirror that of the US where the first company that rolled out an LTE network on a large scale, Verizon Wireless, was quickly caught up by its other competitors.

"LTE has been in the US for an extra 12 to 24 months," said Moore. "And we've watched the leader within the marketplace - who had a about a year lead on everybody else, similar to what EE had here - [and] they were the fastest in year one. And then what happened is more and more cell phones came into that network and that slowed down the network."

Moore thinks that Vodafone will ultimately become the market leader in the UK 4G stakes as it holds the largest amount of spectrum and RootMetrics “expect this horse race to change”.

Even though RootMetrics is keen to stress Vodafone’s credentials in the 4G market, it hit back at the company’s claims that its testing methodology was at fault as it dropped back in the UK market when it comes to speed.

EE currently offers 4G in 187 towns and cities across the UK as well as a number of major commuting routes throughout the UK including one that runs between Edinburgh and Glasgow, and Cardiff and Swansea.

UPDATE: EE got in touch with ITProPortal to dismiss some of the claims made by Moore, saying that Vodafone will not leapfrog EE in the 4G stakes anytime soon.

"Our strategy is very clearly based on the knowledge that as we bring more customers on to the 4G network, we need to introduce more spectrum," an EE spokesperson told ITProPortal. "That's why we launched 'double speed' last year in our busiest markets, doubling the amount of spectrum from 10MHz to 20MHz of 1,800 – to ensure that there's a consistently fast speed available to all customers. And there's the carrier aggregation, 300Mbps network we're rolling out in London, using our 2,600MHz spectrum – that's up there with the fastest networks in the world, and is only possible because of our unique spectrum holdings."