The mobile operator aims to launch a commercial 5G network during 2019
U.K. mobile operator EE, owned by BT Group, has activated what it claims to be the country’s first 5G trial network in London’s Canary Wharf, local press reported.
EE said it is using equipment provided by Chinese vendor Huawei as well as spectrum in the 3.4 GHz band.
The operator’s 5G trial network covers Montgomery Square, which is visited by up to 150,000 people every day.
“Building a 5G site is much more difficult than 4G, because it involves new antennas and new backhaul,” TechRadar quoted Tom Bennett, director of network services and devices at EE, as saying.
EE has previously said it aims to launch commercial 5G services next year.
In June, rival operator Vodafone unveiled seven cities that will become 5G trial areas, with roll outs starting between October and December this year. The carrier aims to test 5G at more than 40 sites in Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Glasgow, Liverpool, London and Manchester. Vodafone also expects to work with a number of enterprise customers, with a view to testing new 5G applications such as augmented and virtual reality in offices, factories and hospitals.
Vodafone plans to commercially launch 5G services in the U.K in 2020, the telco has previously said. Its initial 5G trials will allow the company to start limited deployments in dense urban areas in some markets during 2019.
Earlier this year, O2 also announced plans to launch a 5G testbed at the O2 entertainment venue in North Greenwich during 2018. The company also said that the network will initially roll-out across select locations at the O2, including the O2 blueroom and the O2 store at the venue, with plans to extend coverage across the venue by the end of 2020. The testbed will be delivered using Multi-access Edge Computing (MEC) and is configured for virtualization of core 5G network technologies. O2 will use the network to test a variety of equipment and potential use cases for 5G under live conditions, gathering feedback from customers and partners.
Earlier this 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.