First UK Cities Named To Gain EE’s 5G Network

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Big cities including London, Edinburgh and Belfast to receive speedy 5G networks next year

Mobile operator EE has announced the first cities in the UK where it will deploy its 5G networks, and it has also promised to also offer households a 5G home router.

The cities that in mid 2019 will receive a 5G network include London, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Belfast, Birmingham and Manchester. These cities are to be included as part of EE’s phase one 5G rollout.

5G networks are now close to becoming a reality in the UK after years of trials. Ofcom announced the winners of 5G spectrum in March this year, which netted the government and the treasury £1.4bn from the auction.

EE network

EE said that the 5G launch is designed to cover the busiest parts of cities, such as London’s Hyde Park, Manchester Airport, Edinburgh Waverley train station, Belfast City Airport, The Welsh Assembly and Birmingham’s Bullring shopping centre.

In total EE said it would switch on 5G sites in 16 UK cities in 2019, with London, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Belfast, Birmingham and Manchester being the first “launch cities”.

Ten other UK cities will follow, including Glasgow, Newcastle, Liverpool, Leeds, Hull, Sheffield, Nottingham, Leicester, Coventry and Bristol.

The operator says it is building “a next generation 5G core in line with the next stage of global 5G standards, with virtualised network functions on a cloud native infrastructure, creating the basis for a smart and fully converged agile network.”

Of course, EE is part of BT and it will utilise BT’s 21CN backbone network for its 5G deployment.

“Adding 5G to the UK’s number one 4G network will increase reliability, increase speeds, and keep our customers connected where they need it most,” said Marc Allera, CEO of BT’s Consumer division.

“This is another milestone for the UK and for our network journey – we’ll keep evolving as we move to one, smart network for our customers,” said Allera. “We have an ambition to connect our customers to 4G, 5G or WiFi 100 percent of the time.”

EE said it is upgrading 1,500 sites initially to 5G in 2019, and these sites carry 25 percent of all data across the whole network, but only cover 15 percent of the UK population.

Rural areas?

The question arise how operators such as EE and others will extend their 5G network to more rural locations – regions that are often still struggling to get even a 4G signal.

EE for its part said it is still upgrading 4G sites as part of its overall network strategy, and is “turning the 3G signal into 4G to enable more spectrum for a better network experience.”

EE also said it has built more than 350 brand new sites in 2018 alone, as it seeks to expand its 4G coverage into rural parts of the UK.

In February EE announced a solution to help homes in the UK struggling to get decent fixed-line broadband speeds.

EE offered to install a 4G antenna at those premises where, because of their remote location, they could not get fast broadband speeds via a traditional fixed-line connection.

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Author: Tom Jowitt
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