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Huawei phones excluded

EE promises ‘superfast’ era with 5G launch in six cities

Marc Allera - EE

Marc Allera: ‘start of the journey’


EE has launched superfast 5G mobile networks in six cities, including Edinburgh, but has excluded the Huawei phone from the expanded service.

The BT subsidiary says customers should experience an increase in speeds of around 100-150Mbps even in the busiest areas. Some customers will break the one gigabit-per-second milestone on their 5G smartphones. The fastest speed possible when EE launched 4G in 2012 was just 50Mbps.

5G will be available from 30 May, also in Belfast, Birmingham, Cardiff,  London and Manchester.

The company said the network would rely on equipment made by China’s Huawei, at least for the first few years, although it joined rival Vodafone in pulling a Huawei smartphone from its 5G launch line-up because of uncertainty about support by Google’s Android after a US move to block the Chinese firm’s access to its technology.

The US has said Huawei is a security risk and open to spying by Beijing, a claim the Chinese company denies. UK chip designer Arm said it would stop licensing its essential technology to Huawei.

Marc Allera, CEO of BT’s consumer division, said: “This is the start of the UK’s 5G journey.” He said it would increase reliability and speeds, and keep customers connected where they need it most.  5G will create new experiences with augmented reality, “make our customers’ lives easier, and help launch entirely new businesses that we haven’t even imagined”.

BT is upgrading more than 100 sites to 5G every month from today to connect more places to what 5G can enable.  

In addition to the six launch cities, in 2019 EE will also be introducing 5G across the busiest parts of Bristol, Coventry, Glasgow, Hull, Leeds, Leicester, Liverpool, Newcastle, Nottingham and Sheffield. And in 2020, more towns and cities will get 5G sites including Aberdeen, Cambridge, Derby, Gloucester, Peterborough, Plymouth, Portsmouth, Southampton, Worcester and Wolverhampton.

5G is built on top of EE’s 4G network – customers will connect to both 4G and 5G at the same time to get the best possible experience, even in the most crowded areas.

As well as upgrading more than 100 sites to 5G every month, EE is expanding 4G coverage into rural areas, and adding more capacity to 4G sites by turning 3G signal into 4G to enable more spectrum for a better network experience.

This is Phase 1 of EE’s 5G rollout. Phase 2, from 2022, will introduce the full next generation 5G core network, enhanced device chipset capabilities, and increased availability of 5G-ready spectrum.

Higher bandwidth and lower latency, coupled with expansive and growing 5G coverage, will enable a more responsive network, enabling truly immersive mobile augmented reality, real-time health monitoring, and mobile cloud gaming. BT says Phase 2 is also a vital step on the journey to the convergence of its network technologies, as it brings together fixed, mobile and WiFi into one seamless customer experience.

Phase 3, from 2023, will introduce Ultra-Reliable Low Latency Communications (URLLC), Network Slicing and multi-gigabit-per-second speeds. This phase of 5G will enable critical applications like real-time traffic management of fleets of autonomous vehicles, massive sensor networks with millions of devices measuring air quality across the entire country, and the ‘tactile internet’, where a sense of touch can be added to remote real-time interactions.

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