Having last week announced the switch-on of 5G trial sites in East London, British cellco EE has now detailed its launch plans for the next generation of mobile broadband technology. In a press release the company revealed that it aims to switch on 5G sites in a total of 16 cities next year, initially including the UK’s four capital cities – London, Cardiff, Edinburgh and Belfast – and Birmingham and Manchester. According to the cellco, it will roll out 5G in ‘the busiest parts of the six launch cities’, while it intends to follow up throughout the year by extending coverage to ten more cities, namely: Bristol, Coventry, Glasgow, Hull, Leeds, Leicester, Liverpool, Newcastle, Nottingham and Sheffield. Meanwhile, EE said it will launch with ‘multiple’ smartphone partners, as well as a 5G home router with external antenna.
According to EE, its 5G rollout strategy has been determined by the number of business and consumer customers its network connects in busy places, and the amount of data those customers use. It noted that in the last three months alone, more than 2.1 million individual customers connected around Waterloo station, with just one site at the station carrying more than 100TB of data per day. The first 1,500 sites that EE is upgrading to 5G in 2019 reportedly carry 25% of all data across its entire infrastructure, despite only covering 15% of the UK population.
Alongside its 5G endeavours, EE has said it will continue to upgrade 4G sites as part of its overall network strategy, while also ‘turning 3G signal into 4G to enable more spectrum for a better network experience’. The cellco’s busiest sites will reportedly have five carriers of 4G spectrum supporting the new 5G spectrum, while as well as increasing capacity, EE said it will work to expand 4G coverage into rural parts of the UK to give rural communities the coverage and capacity that they need, having constructed more than 350 brand new sites in 2018 alone.
Commenting on the 5G launch plans, Marc Allera, CEO of EE parent company BT’s Consumer division, said: ‘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. 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.’