EE launching newly-acquired spectrum into 5G network

28 Apr 2021

Hot on the heels of UK regulator Ofcom announcing the final results of its auction of 700MHz and 3.6GHz-3.8GHz spectrum, mobile network operator (MNO) EE has said it will introduce some of its new frequencies into its 5G network ‘immediately’. In a press release outlining its aims, EE confirmed that it had secured 20MHz of paired and 20MHz of unpaired spectrum in the 700MHz band, alongside a 40MHz block of 3.6GHz spectrum, doubling its current frequency holdings in the latter band. According to EE, as the launch band for 5G, 3.4GHz-3.8GHz allows for ‘exceptionally high performance and capacity in areas with denser populations and can be accessed by all 5G handsets’. The cellco said it has already carried out work on a number of sites to allow the new spectrum in this band to launch ‘soon’.

With regards to the use of 700MHz frequencies, meanwhile, EE noted that rolling out 5G services using this spectrum will support wider and deeper coverage, including indoors, and help deliver better capacity overall. The cellco said it plans to roll out the 20MHz of paired spectrum extensively over the years ahead and it will begin trials using the frequencies on a small number of new sites this week. EE did though note that its 20MHz of additional unpaired spectrum in the 700MHz band can only provide downlink capabilities and is not currently supported by devices on the market. As such, it said views this block of spectrum as a ‘longer-term strategic opportunity’.

Commenting, Marc Allera, CEO Consumer Division at EE parent company BT, said: ‘Spectrum is the most vital investment a mobile network can make; the more a network has, the better the experience it can deliver. We’re pleased to have secured significant new capacity for the EE network at an excellent price. Combined with our existing portfolio, this new acquisition of valuable low and mid frequency spectrum will mean the EE network is set up well for the future, and can continue to provide customers with the best and most extensive 5G network in the UK.’

United Kingdom, BT Group (incl. Openreach), EE