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EE UK Starts Switching-on 5G Mobile via the 700MHz Band

Thursday, October 28th, 2021 (2:42 pm) - Score 11,376

Mobile operator EE (BT) has today begun to rollout the new 700MHz band across their UK ultrafast 5G based mobile (mobile broadband) network. As part of this, they’re switching on “indoor 5G” at more than 50 sites across the United Kingdom, although they fail to name even one of them.

Just to recap. Ofcom auctioned off part of the 700MHz band, which was previously used for Digital Terrestrial TV (DTTV) services, earlier this year (here). During the auction EE scooped up three slices of the band, including between 723-733MHz (10MHz), 778-788MHz (10MHz) and 738-758MHz (20MHz).

NOTE: Lower mobile frequencies like 700MHz are ideal for delivering wide geographic coverage, as they travel further and penetrate better into buildings. Provided you have a supporting device.

Usually, you don’t get as much usable spectrum to play with in the lower frequency bands, which tends to result in only a modest improvement for mobile broadband speeds. But such spectrum can be combined with similar neighbouring bands (Carrier Aggregation), such as 800MHz and 900MHz, to help improve performance. Rural areas have the most to gain from 700MHz, but it helps in urban areas too.

However, the 40MHz chunk secured by EE is quite a significant amount for the 700MHz band, albeit not a single contiguous block.

David Salam, EE’s Director of Mobile Networks, said:

“We’ve got big ambitions for 5G connectivity in the next decade, and this is the latest milestone in our journey to provide our customers with unrivalled connectivity. This next stage of our 5G rollout will enable our customers to enjoy even better 5G, keeping them connected to the things that are most important to them.”

The reference to 50 “indoor 5G” sites is quite vague and could make some people think that this announcement has no benefit to outdoor coverage. Such terminology could easily be confused with indoor specific small cells, or they might simply be referring to the fact that 5G in the 700MHz band is better at penetrating into buildings. But the band is even better at outdoor coverage, so why only focus on only the “indoor” side? Confusing.

The irony is that we actually got slightly more detail during last month’s pre-launch announcement for the 700MHz band (here), which revealed that the first locations to benefit from this deployment on EE’s 5G network in October would be the UK towns of Redditch, Morecambe and Cramlington.

Finally, EE reminds us that it has pledged to extend its 5G network to reach half of the UK’s population by 2023, and offer 5G anywhere in the UK by 2028 through its macro network and ‘on demand’ connectivity solutions. But if you remove the vague reference to ‘on demand’ solutions, then 5G will actually reach over 90% of the UK’s landmass by 2028.

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By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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26 Responses
  1. Carl O says:

    Any idea where the 50 locations are?

    1. Mark Jackson says:

      Only the three previously announced.

    2. Hizzards says:

      The coverage map shows them

    3. Aaron says:

      Eastbourne is probably one of them, 5G showed up on my phone a few days ago and Eastbourne is not yet shown on the coverage map as having 5G.

  2. Chris says:

    EE’s coverage checker has now been updated to show
    “Indoor and outdoor 5G” &
    “Outdoor only 5G”

    Doesn’t indicate specifically where the 700mhz is, but may be possible to infer it from an area having greater indoor covearage

    1. James says:

      Yeah I think you’re right.

      Seems to indicate that near me anyway. Pale yellow and dark yellow

  3. anonymous says:

    there’s a few EE sites with 700MHz (band 28) live in Cardiff.

    1. Gregowski says:

      I though that band 28 is 4G no?

  4. Duncan says:

    Most of my town has turned pale yellow with a few pockets of the darker shade. I’m assuming from that nothing has been switched on here at the moment.

    1. Bully Nomates says:

      That map is incredibly Sus. It shows EE 5G in places it doesn’t exist as I’ve tried it myself. Take it with a pinch of salt

    2. Gregowski says:

      I think EE coverage map is the worse out there. It says that i should get good 4G in and out at work but theres hardly any coverage outside and once you step indoors your phone signal is dead.

  5. Lexx says:

    Can’t see how this matters if 4g isn’t on the 5g 700 band as well

    no 4g signal you currently don’t get a 5g signal as well (until SA is used so 5g can operate on its own)

    5g still needs a 4g anchor witch is on 800 and higher bands

    1. JitteryPinger says:

      EE has a lot of sites using 800 which will no doubt be the anchor, however I know most sites use Band 3… however is is possibly likely that radio’s in use for n28 with feature b20 too.

    2. JitteryPinger says:

      Maybe EE is going to go straight to SA with n28?

  6. Sam says:

    I have been getting 5G in Littlehampton since the summer and its taken them till now to update it LOL!

    Will this improve 4G at all? as that is what I would like.

  7. Badkilleh says:

    Unfortunately this really does highlight how exaggerated EE’s coverage checker was with their “outdoor” 5G coverage, claiming to coverage entire towns with a single mast.

  8. Carl O says:

    I get 5G indoors upstairs and down and I’m pale yellow on the map.

    No 5G at all in Chester central even though it says it blankets the city which is a lie.

    Three is the other provided in Chester and it at least sticks to its word in the areas I’ve tried and tested. Definitely not 100mhz either as it doesn’t go further than 300mbps.

  9. William Wilkinson says:

    I recently switched from EE to Giffgaff and saved a few quid each month in doing so. The EE network is much better for data, my phone reception at home is probably slightly better on Giffgaff (O2). I seem to have some weird speed restriction thing with Giffgaff though wherever I run speed tests on the mobile network it seems like I’m limited to 2mbps. It always seems to work when I’m out and about though and seems just enough to manage. You get what you pay for I suppose.

    1. Lexx says:

      O2 is using QOS at low priority for giffgaff nvmo (you get vastly different speeds between o2 and giffgaff)

    2. Heathiopian says:

      I thought that was the case too as at home I sometimes suffer from low speeds with giffgaff however I got an O2 sun card to test this theory and get exactly the same if not slightly better speeds with my GG SIM

  10. AnotherTim says:

    I checked the EE coverage checker, and discovered that a nearby village with FTTC and FTTP now has 5G too. My area still has none of these.

  11. Matt says:

    Very odd this morning. I’m getting three bars of 5G indoors for the first time, although when I use cell info it displays the strength as red and Band 3 like before?

    The experience matches the three bars however. I’m using an S21 Ultra.

    1. Connor says:

      Band 3 would be the 4G anchor however you’d be connected to a different band for 5G.

      Try opening your phone app and typing *#0011#, this will open up ServiceMode which can allow you to see your bands, tap the relevant SIM if required and then it will tell you what 5G band you’re on under NR_BAND.

    2. Sam says:

      Mine showed Mickey Mouse 5G on my s20

  12. Russell Minney says:

    All this talk of 5G this and 5G that. I live and work in and around Cambridge. No sign of ANY 5G whatsoever. For some reason EE don’t seem to want to expand into this area. So maybe EE should get Mr Bacon to come and sit where I live and see if he can shave someone on a mountain.
    Very poor from EE.

  13. GaryH says:

    Unfortunately I’m in ne of those areas where 4g is patchy at best, lucky I get a good signal on the external 4g router up on the roof.

    Upgrading existing towers isn’t going to help much when towers are the wrong side of hills serving the main traffic route but poor in town and leave a large area inland with little to no coverage

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