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EE Name First 16 UK Cities for 2019 Commercial 5G Mobile Rollout

Tuesday, November 13th, 2018 (12:56 pm) - Score 2,502

Mobile operator EE (BT) has today named the first UK cities to benefit from their commercial roll-out of ultrafast multi-Gigabit capable 5G mobile and wireless home broadband technology, which is due to begin later next year. Naturally London, Cardiff, Edinburgh and Belfast are on the list.

At present EE and Vodafone have already begun early network trials of the new network using the 3.4GHz band, although the lack of supporting 5G capable Smartphones has meant that initially these are only focused on 1Gbps+ capable fixed wireless broadband ISP style connections for homes and businesses (here and here).

Sadly most of the necessary radio spectrum bands and hardware won’t be completely ready for commercial launch until 2020, although both EE and Three UK (here) have said that they expect to begin the commercial roll-out of 5G services in 2019. Today EE has also gone one step further by announcing which areas will be the first to benefit and it’s an unsurprising list.

Overall 16 cities have been listed and the first six of those to see the new service under Phase One include London, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Belfast, Birmingham and Manchester. EE’s initial deployment will target the “busiest parts” of these cities including London’s Hyde Park, Manchester Airport, Edinburgh Waverley train station, Belfast City Airport, The Welsh Assembly and Birmingham’s Bullring shopping centre.

Indeed it’s noted that the first 1,500 sites to benefit currently carry 25% of all data across the whole network, but only cover 15% of the UK population. “EE is upgrading to 5G where it can make the biggest difference to the most people,” said the operator.

EE’s First 16 5G Cities

Phase One

Phase Two

Unlike the current trials, EE said that their commercial deployment will also launch 5G mobile services via “multiple smartphone partners,” although they also intend to launch a new EE 5G Home router with external antenna and that will be used to “showcase the power of 5G” for broadband connectivity to individual premises.

Marc Allera, CEO of 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. We have an ambition to connect our customers to 4G, 5G or WiFi 100% of the time.”

Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London, added:

“I want London to be the world’s leading smart city and 5G expansion is at the heart of this ambition – it is good news for Londoners, innovation, and business. At City Hall we are working hard right across the capital to ensure we have the network infrastructure needed through our new Connected London programme. EE’s ambitious investment in 5G sites demonstrates that our city is a great place to invest in innovative and future-facing digital connectivity.”

According to the blurb, BT’s Technology team is virtualising elements of the core network for the 5G rollout, and is building a next generation 5G core in line with the next stage of global 5G standards, with virtualised network functions on a cloud native infrastructure.

BT’s 21CN backbone network is also said to be Petabit-class, which is important because the new connections will be much more data hungry than before. In keeping with that EE are upgrading their network to support 10Gbps links (e.g. fibre optic) at “each 5G site“, and they’ve already tested these via their trial sites in Canary Wharf and across East London.

The fact that EE will make a play for the home broadband market, which has traditionally been the domain of fixed line ISPs, would seem to support the above expectations. But in order to be taken seriously they’ll have to offer home users something akin to affordable “unlimited” usage, just like fixed line services (it remains to be seen whether or not they’ll do that).

Meanwhile EE have said that they are still upgrading their 4G network too and the busiest sites will soon have access to five carriers of 4G spectrum (bands), supporting the new 5G spectrum and making them the highest speed sites of any UK operator in 2019.

ee 5g rollout plan uk 2019

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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.
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18 Responses
  1. SimonM

    It’d be nice to get a reliable 2G and 3G signal from EE, yet alone 4G, before they start their 5G rollout. Sure 5G needs to happen and the UK should be doing it no later than any other country (although it seems we already are a bit behind the initial rollout from what I gather), but I can see EE, and other companies, will use this as a great way to divert attention from failing to meet their 4G promises, and pushing back notspots even further as we wait another generation to get the always-promised coverage. I hope ISP Review and other sites will keep the pressure on the mobile companies and Ofcom to ensure that coverage targets that were promised actually do get met, rather than just diverted to yet another generational rollout which pushes it back yet further.

    • New_Londoner

      According to Ofcom, all of the mobile operators have met their 4G coverage obligations – it’s confirmed on the Ofcom website. So what additional targets were you hoping ISP Review and others to hold them to account on?

    • SimonM

      New_Londoner, you are quite right, thank you for pointing me towards that info. I was (still) under the impression they were far short of the promised level, but the Ofcom data seems to suggest they have passed it. Quite frankly stunned to see that considering how dismal the signal is – even the Ofcom mapping shows none or “chance of” signal… Must just be in an unlucky area.

  2. EE

    If 4G is worse then I think 5G will be even worsen

  3. Brian

    With existing coverage, there is a often a big difference between theoretical coverage and actual coverage experienced on the ground. I am a loss as to where Ofcom get their data from, for fixed broadband they thing I get at least 50% faster download sync, and an upload of double what can be achieved on ADSLmax as ADSL2+ is no yet available

  4. Steve

    People really need to open their eyes about 5G, even more so if they are so keen to have it, considering many top scientists have valid concerns about it, I for one will be avoiding it at all costs.



    • As I said on another article. At present there are no justified concerns related to 5G specifically, although a couple of recent studies do warrant further research in order to understand whether or not certain bands and power level combinations may need to be avoided or tweaked etc. This is true for wireless technology in general and is not merely 5G centric.

      But right now most of the work that does exist is of only limited use or vague relevance to the impact upon humans. A lot of the scaremongering comes from quacks who have misread what the related research has actually said, rather than hard empirical evidence.

  5. Verte

    Absolutely Steve, 5G not only damaging to humans but to wildlife, trees and our entire ecosystem. At a simple level more intense frequencies will speed up growth – this is demonstrated with plant growth – growers use artificial pulsed microwaves to speed up growth. 5G will take us from cradle to grave quicker so at a cellular level that means cells divide quicker – heralding more cancer and likely more mental health problems as our brains are denied the vital Schumann Resonance from the ionosphere. Progress?

    • TheFacts

      ‘more intense frequencies’???

    • CarlT

      Citations for that microwave radiation accelerates plant growth and that Schumann resonances are vital for life, please.

      My own brief search indicated microwave radiation is, at low levels, not impacting in any way on plant growth and at high levels reduces growth, not accelerates it. Schumann resonances appear to have some ‘new age’ mysticism attached to them but nothing backed by evidence.

      If you’re going to come on here making these claims you’re going to need to back them up, else they’ll just get filed in the same section as homeopathy.

  6. Verte

    [admin note: wall of text without context removed. Next time just link to the source https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26368042/ please]

  7. Mike

    Seems 5G also causes stage 4 libtardism judging by all the environmental/health and safety nutjobs it has attracted so far.

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