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EE UK Switches On First Live Trial of 5G Mobile Tech in Canary Wharf

Friday, October 5th, 2018 (10:21 am) - Score 2,336
ee 5g mobile trial base stations

As expected mobile operator EE (BT) has today announced that they’ve switch-on their first live UK trial of 5G based technology in Montgomery Square (Canary Wharf, London), which will test the new spectrum and related hardware devices for performance, wireless broadband speeds and coverage.

The Montgomery Square part of Canary Wharf is particularly busy, with 150,000 people passing through the estate every day and lots of businesses being present within the area. The operator said that “high capacity zone testing” like this is a critical part of their launch program, with their first limited commercial deployments set to begin by the end of 2019.

EE claims that this “will be the UK’s first live 5G trial,” which is debatable since Arqiva and Samsung made a similar claim last year (here). The key difference being that EE’s live trial is using hardware that’s much closer to the final commercial 5G New Radio product (note: the official collection of 5th Generation mobile standards is still being finalised).

Fotis Karonis, 5G Technology Lead at BT Group, said:

“This is the latest milestone in our 5G rollout – a live test of our 5G network, in a hugely busy ‘hotspot’, where we know there’s going to be demand from customers for increased mobile capacity. With constant upgrades to 4G, and laying the foundations for 5G, we’re working to always be able to deliver what our customers need – both consumers and the vertical industries that will make the greatest use of 5G.

We were UK pioneers with 4G and today we saw the UK’s first live connections on 5G – this is a huge step forward for our digital infrastructure.”

Mark Nallen, Head of Technology at Canary Wharf Group, said:

“Staying at the forefront of connectivity and new technologies is critical to our community, and that’s why we’re partnering with BT Group to support delivery of 5G. The consumers who live and work here will benefit from being better connected, and the enterprises based here will have the chance to partner with BT Group to understand the full capabilities of 5G.”

The announcement appears to suggest that EE might be testing their technology in a mobile environment first, which is different from the fixed wireless broadband testing (i.e. connecting premises rather than people) that was mentioned as part of the original press release (we’ve asked for clarification). One problem with mobile environment testing is that at present almost nobody has a 5G capable Smartphone.

By comparison the original announcement actually proposed to deploy a 5G based fixed wireless broadband link at 10 sites (5 small businesses and 5 homes), which would focus on areas such as City Road, Old Street, Hoxton Square and Chiswell Street. Meanwhile today’s update says this aspect will follow in East London “later this month.”

The operator’s initial trials have already achieved multi-Gigabit data speeds in closed testing (up to 2.8Gbps over short distances) via the 3.5GHz band, which harnessed an active antenna unit with 64×64 MIMO broadcasting and 100MHz of spectrum frequency on Huawei kit (as well as sub 5ms latency). By comparison the new trials will make use of Ofcom’s recently released 3.4GHz band, but EE only has a 40MHz slice of that.

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Mark Jackson
By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he is also the founder of ISPreview since 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
Leave a Comment
7 Responses
  1. EE

    What the point? All mobile smartphones only support up to 4G. No 5G support yet until next year.

  2. Lurch

    4g is hopeless so I won’t hold my breath with 5g from EE.

  3. Mike

    Wonder what sort of capacity the lower spectrum bands will offer rural folk?

    • Guy Cashmore

      The 4G 800 Mhz band can only deliver around 10 Mbps, can’t see how 5G 700 Mhz will be significantly better. That’s assuming it ever gets installed, plenty of areas here in Devon that still have 2G only masts.

  4. Paul Reg

    I sincerely hope this helps EE’s coverage which at present in Canary Wharf is seriously lacking. In working on the 15th floor of one of the many high rise buildings in the area I barely get 1 bar (-118DBM)even though I am right next to the window.

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