EE will be the UK’s first mobile network operator to launch 5G, beating Vodafone to the punch by a little over a month, when it brings the next generation mobile network technology to six cities on 30 May.
London, Birmingham, Cardiff, Manchester, Edinburgh, and Belfast will be the first UK locations to benefit from EE’s 5G network and its 5G plans. Alongside the technology going live, six 5G smartphones and devices will be made available, including smartphones from Samsung, OnePlus, LG, and Oppo, as well as 5GEE home broadband and 5GEE Wi-fi with the HTC 5G Hub.
“This is the start of the UK’s 5G journey and great news for our customers that want and need the best connections,” said Marc Allera, CEO of BT’s consumer division. “We’ve started with 5G in some of the busiest parts of the UK, the widest range of 5G devices in the UK, and plans that give customers the best mobile connection and great benefits.”
The 5G network is built on top of EE’s 4G network – with customers connecting to both at the same time. EE expects its customers to see an increase in speeds of between 100 and 150Mbps, with some customers’ speeds exceeding one gigabit-per-second.
The company says it will also bring 5G to the ‘busiest parts’ of Bristol, Coventry, Glasgow, Hull, Leeds, Leicester, Liverpool, Newcastle, Nottingham, and Sheffield in 2019. Then, in 2020, locations including Aberdeen, Cambridge, Derby, Gloucester, Peterborough, Plymouth, Portsmouth, Southampton, Worcester, and Wolverhampton can all expect to benefit.
In order to achieve its goal of rolling out 5G to the busiest parts of all the above locations, EE will be upgrading more than 100 sites to 5G each month. It will also be expanding 4G coverage into rural areas, and add more capacity to 4G sites b turning 3G signal into 4G.
EE’s 5G rollout will happen in three phases – this being the first. The full next generation 5G core network can be expected in the second phase, which will get going from 2022. The third phase, from 2023, will look to introduce Ultra-Reliable Low Latency Communications (URLLC), Network Slicing, and multi-gigabit-per-second speeds to power applications such as real-time traffic management of fleets of autonomous vehicles.
“We’re adding 5G to the UK’s number one 4G network to increase reliability, increase speeds, and keep our customers connected where they need it most,” said Allera. “5G will create new experiences with augmented reality, make our customers’ lives easier, and help launch entirely new businesses that we haven’t even imagined. We’re upgrading more than 100 sites to 5G every month from today to connect more places to what 5G can enable.
The BT-owned network has also announced a pair of 5G-powered partnerships with Google and Pokémon Go creator Niantic.
EE is bringing 5G to the Google for Startups Campus in London to help power the development of next generation apps and experiences. Meanwhile, EE is the exclusive UK telecom launch partner for Niantic’s upcoming augmented reality Harry Potter: Wizards Unite game. As a result, EE customers will gain exclusive in-game content, EE locations will appear in the game as sponsored Inns and Fortresses with higher reward payout, and there’ll be special quests announced at game’s launch.
“Our partnerships with Google and Niantic are just the start of our commitment to work with the most innovative and exciting companies in the world to ensure that EE customers are the first to benefit from the exciting new experiences that 5G will bring,” said Allera.
The first 5G smartphones available through EE will be the Samsung Galaxy S10 5G, Oppo Reno 5G, LG V50 ThinQ, and OnePlus 7 Pro 5g.
In fact, the OnePlus 7 Pro 5G is already available for pre-order, making it the UK’s first commercially available 5G smartphone.