BT broadband users are to get first access to 5G services running on EE’s mobile network, which launched in parts of London, Cardiff, Belfast, Edinburgh, Birmingham and Manchester in May
BT is to launch 5G services this autumn for both personal and business customers, with the aim of having coverage up and running in the busiest parts of 16 cities by the end of this year, the company said on Tuesday.
The UK’s former monopoly telecoms operator owns EE, which launched 5G services in six UK cities at the end of May, covering areas of Belfast, Birmingham, Cardiff, Edinburgh, London and Manchester.
BT said its 5G services would run on EE’s network.
Rival Vodafone has said it plans to launch its own 5G network in seven cities on Wednesday, 3 July, covering Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Glasgow, Liverpool, London and Manchester.
BT said that by the end of the year it wants services running in Belfast, Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Coventry, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Hull, Leicester, Liverpool, Leeds, London, Manchester, Newcastle, Nottingham and Sheffield.
BT said both personal and business customers would have access to 5G plans, while custoemrs of BT Plus, the firm’s combined mobile and broadband package, would be given the upgrade option ahead of other customers.
“We’re bringing together the best fibre and mobile connections to help keep our customers connected, both on the go and at home,” said Marc Allera, chief executive of BT’s consumer division, in a statement.
EE has also said it plans to offer a 5G as part of a home broadband package.
BT hasn’t confirmed the planned cost of its 5G plans or which handsets it will offer.
EE sells the Samsung Galaxy S10 5G, OnePlus 7 Pro 5G, LG V50 ThinQ and Oppo Reno 5G handsets.
BT is the UK’s biggest broadband and mobile provider.
In May EE said it was adding more than 100 new 5G sites are being added per month, and planned to expand the next-generation network into cities including Aberdeen, Bournemouth, Brighton, Cambridge, Dundee, Exeter, Ipswich, Norwich, Plymouth and York next year.
Telcos including South Korea’s SK Telecom and AT&T and Verizon in the US have launched limited 5G rollouts over the past few months, while countries including France and Germany are planning to launch networks only next year.
In April Vodafone installed the first 5G network in a UK train station, at Birmingham New Street, where it invited commuters and travellers to test superfast speeds.