EE to launch first commercial 5G network in U.K. May 30

Marc Allera, CEO of BT’s consumer business, at EE's 5G launch event. (EE)

BT-owned mobile operator EE has announced it will turn on commercial services for what it calls the U.K.’s first 5G network at the end of the month.

EE will offer 5G services to mobile customers in six cities in the U.K. starting May 30, including London, Birmingham, Manchester, Cardiff, Edinburgh, and Belfast. EE plans to roll out service to 10 more cities in the area by the end of 2019. It said it is upgrading more than 100 new sites to 5G every month.

The launch is part of EE’s phase one rollout of 5G services as a nonstandalone deployment. The operator said it is building its 5G network on top of its 4G network, and will offer customers access to both networks, delivering “unprecedented” download speeds. The 5G network will use band n78, which was auctioned earlier this year in the U.K., and will offer download speeds of 150 Mbps for most customers. EE said some customers may see up to 1 Gbps speeds.

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“We’re at the bleeding edge of technology with this 5G launch,” Marc Allera, CEO of BT’s consumer business, said in a statement issued by Qualcomm and EE. “Adding 5G to the UK’s number one 4G network will be transformative for consumer and business experiences.”

5G access will cost customers £54 ($68) per month for 10 GB of data, or £74 ($94) per month for 120 GB. EE will begin offering 5G-capable smartphones from OnePlus, Oppo and LG to customers. The operator made the decision earlier this month to drop Huawei 5G phones from its launch until further notice, according to BBC.

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EE said it will begin phase two of its 5G rollout in 2022, when it plans to deploy a 5G core network, offering higher bandwidth, lower latency and more 5G coverage. Its third phase is slated for 2023, when it will roll out ultrareliable low latency communications, network slicing and multigigabit-per-second speeds.

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