EE to launch UK’s first 5G network on 30 May

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EE said it plans to launch its 5G network in the UK at the end of May, making it the first telco to switch on its 5G network in the country.

The firm said the service will be available on a range of six new 5G smartphones and devices, and the roll out will start in six cities. 

London, Birmingham, Cardiff, Manchester, Edinburgh and Belfast will be first to have access to the 5G network, EE said.

From today, consumers and businesses can also pre-order the new devices, including smartphones from Samsung, OnePlus, LG, and Oppo. 

EE is also announcing a 5GEE WiFi and 5GEE home broadband with pricing and availability to follow.

First 5G network 

The new 5G Smart plans will give customers access to the UK’s first 5G network, BT Sport HD HDR, and an exclusive Gamer’s Data Pass with zero-rated data, as well as the chance to upgrade anytime, and get a device warranty for the duration of their contract.

EE said its 5G network will be switched on in the six launch cities on Thursday 30 May.

“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.

5GEE: BT's Marc Allera announces launch of EE's 5G adventure

“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. 

“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.

“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.”

Breaking the 1-gigabyte barrier

EE said it expects customers to experience an increase in speeds of around 100-150Mbps even in the busiest areas. Some customers will break the one gigabit-per-second milestone on their 5G smartphones. 

The fastest speed possible when EE launched 4G in 2012 was just 50Mbps.

In addition to the six launch cities, in 2019 EE will also be introducing 5G across the busiest parts of Bristol, Coventry, Glasgow, Hull, Leeds, Leicester, Liverpool, Newcastle, Nottingham and Sheffield. 

From 2020, even more towns and cities will get 5G sites including: Aberdeen, Cambridge, Derby, Gloucester, Peterborough, Plymouth, Portsmouth, Southampton, Worcester and Wolverhampton.

5G is built on top of EE’s award winning 4G network – customers will connect to both 4G and 5G at the same time to get the best possible experience, even in the most crowded areas.

As well as upgrading more than 100 sites to 5G every month, EE is expanding 4G coverage into rural areas, and adding more capacity to 4G sites by turning 3G signal into 4G to enable more spectrum for a better network experience wherever EE customers go.

This is Phase 1 of EE’s 5G rollout: a ‘non-standalone’ deployment focused on using the combined power of 4G and 5G to give customers the fastest, most reliable mobile broadband experience they’ve ever had.

Phase 2, from 2022, will introduce the full next generation 5G core network, enhanced device chipset capabilities, and increased availability of 5G-ready spectrum. 

Higher bandwidth and lower latency, coupled with expansive and growing 5G coverage, will enable a more responsive network, enabling truly immersive mobile augmented reality, real-time health monitoring, and mobile cloud gaming. Phase 2 is also a vital step on our journey to the convergence of our network technologies, as we bring together fixed, mobile and WiFi into one seamless customer experience.

Phase 3, from 2023, will introduce Ultra-Reliable Low Latency Communications (URLLC), Network Slicing and multi-gigabit-per-second speeds. 

This phase of 5G will enable critical applications like real-time traffic management of fleets of autonomous vehicles, massive sensor networks with millions of devices measuring air quality across the entire country, and the ‘tactile internet’, where a sense of touch can be added to remote real-time interactions.

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