After much speculation, EE have finally confirmed that they will be the first mobile network to launch 5G services in the UK. The announcement was made on Wednesday at a press conference in London, where the operator confirmed their plans to launch commercial 5G services in 6 major UK cities from the 30th May 2019.
From next Thursday, 5G will be available to consumers in London, Edinburgh, Belfast, Birmingham and Cardiff. Despite initially launching in only 6 cities, EE have suggested that they plan to add 100 new 5G sites each month, which will extend their 5G capabilities to 10 more cities by the end of the year.
What EE Have Said
The network’s CEO, Marc Allera stated in yesterday’s press conference that to begin with EE’s networks would offer customers speeds in excess of 150Mbps, but they plan to quickly scale up from there.
“Launching 5G is going to provide a [download speed] uplift of around 150Mbps and often far more than that. It’s going to be a premium experience, it will be like having a lane to yourself on the motorway. We are also very confident that in 2019 there will be customers on EE who break the gigabit barrier on a smartphone. When you think back to when we launched 4G, we were talking about offering people speeds of around 12-15Mbps” Allera told press at the launch.
The Rollout Process
The CEO went on to say that the upcoming launch on 30th May was just the first step in EE’s plans to transform connectivity in the UK. EE plan to use its existing 4G networks throughout the UK as base from which to launch this next generation of its network services.
From its launch next week to 2022, EE will focus its efforts on what it has labelled phase one of its 5G rollout. This will see the network accumulate around 15000 5G sites across the UK whilst also investing in the development of its 4G networks.
The second phase of the programme will begin in 2022, with the launch of EE’s stand-alone 5G complete with an independent 5G core. This will mean increased convergence between BT’s fixed, mobile and WiFi networks.
Phase three will begin in 2023, introducing network slicing options, this will open up a range of lucrative use cases for both consumers and business users.
How Will It Affect Users?
Allera said that the launch of 5G will have a profound impact on the way people live their lives. He advised that it is crucial for UK businesses to be early adopters of the technology in order to drive the evolution of business models and innovate UK commerce. The handsets available will include the Samsung Galaxy S10 5G, OnePlus’s 7 Pro 5G and Oppo’s Reno 5G phones.
He added that “people will inevitably ask why do I need 5G? But they asked that about 4G… and look at how much has changed in terms of how people live their lives; how they talk to their friends, how they watch TV, how they do business, how they bank, shop, order food and play video games. The launch of 4G sparked a huge shift in the way we do business and the services we all use. Uber, Deliveroo, Netflix, YouTube, Instagram – none of these companies would exist or do business in the same way they do today, without a fast, reliable mobile connection”.
The Main Benefits of 5G
- Increased capacity – making it easier to get service in busy places such as railway stations and stadiums
- Average speeds will increase – 5G will enable speeds of up to 150Mbps (megabits per second) compared with a top speed of 50Mbps when 4G was launched. Some customers will get speeds of up to one gigabit, with continued improvements over time
- Low latency – particularly useful for online games and apps which use augmented reality