U.K. operator EE has confirmed that it will launch commercial 5G services on May 30.
5G services will be initially available in London, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Belfast, Birmingham and Manchester.
In a second phase, the carrier will also launch 5G in the busiest areas of Glasgow, Newcastle, Liverpool, Leeds, Hull, Sheffield, Nottingham, Leicester, Coventry and Bristol.
During 2020, 5G coverage will reach Aberdeen, Cambridge, Derby, Gloucester, Peterborough, Plymouth, Portsmouth, Southampton, Worcester and Wolverhampton, the telco said.
The telco said that consumers and businesses can pre-order 5G-based devices, including smartphones from Samsung, OnePlus, LG, and Oppo.
“This is the start of the UK’s 5G journey and great news for our customers that want and need the best connections,” said Marc Allera, CEO of BT’s consumer division. “We’ve started with 5G in some of the busiest parts of the UK, the widest range of 5G devices in the UK, and plans that give customers the best mobile connection and great benefits.
“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. We’re upgrading more than 100 sites to 5G every month from today to connect more places to what 5G can enable,” Allera added.
EE said that the upcoming commercial launch is the phase 1 of the telco’s 5G rollout: a ‘non-standalone’ deployment focused on using the combined power of 4G and 5G technologies.
Phase 2, from 2022, will introduce the full 5G core network, enhanced device chipset capabilities, and increased availability of 5G-ready spectrum. EE said that higher bandwidth and lower latency, coupled with expansive and growing 5G coverage, will enable a more responsive network, enabling immersive mobile augmented reality, real-time health monitoring, and mobile cloud gaming.
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 and massive sensor networks.
Last year, U.K. telcos obtained spectrum for the future provision of 5G services. BT-owned EE won 40 megahertz for which it paid £303 million ($395 million). Three secured 20 megahertz of 3.4 GHz spectrum at a cost of £151.3 million. Vodafone won 50 megahertz of spectrum in the 3.4GHz frequency band after paying £378 million, while Telefónica-owned O2 picked up 40 megahertz for £318m.
Rival operators are also paving the way to launch commercial 5G services in the UK. Telecommunications group Vodafone recently announced it will launch 5G technology in 12 new cities across the UK during this year.
Vodafone has installed 5G antennas and associated equipment in Birmingham, Glasgow and London ahead of going live.
Vodafone said plans for this year include the launch of 5G in Birkenhead, Blackpool, Bournemouth, Guildford, Newbury, Portsmouth, Plymouth, Reading, Southampton, Stoke-on-Trent, Warrington and Wolverhampton.
O2 and Three are also carrying out 5G trials ahead of commercial launches.
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