Thursday, 23 May 2019 09:13

EE beats Vodafone in UK 5G race, to launch on 30 May

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BT Consumer division chief executive Marc Allera at Wednesday's EE announcement. BT Consumer division chief executive Marc Allera at Wednesday's EE announcement. Supplied

British mobile operator EE, part of the BT Group, will be the first to launch 5G services in the country, announcing on Wednesday that it would kick off services to six cities on 30 May, beating Vodafone to the punch, with the latter having already said it would launch its 5G offerings on 3 July.

In a statement, the company said London, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Belfast, Birmingham and Manchester would be the first to experience the new technology, with 5G Smart SIM and handset plans set to launch.

More than 100 new 5G sites would be added every month, providing 5G services in Bristol, Coventry, Leicester, Nottingham, Sheffield, Liverpool, Hull, Leeds, Newcastle and Glasgow, EE said.

The company plans to tie up with Niantic and Google to develop what it called "exciting new experiences that make the most of 5G connectivity".

BT Consumer division chief executive Marc Allera said: "This is the start of the UK’s 5G journey and great news for our customers who want and need the best connections. 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.

“We’re adding 5G to the UK’s number one 4G network to increase reliability, increase speeds, and keep our 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. We’re upgrading more than 100 sites to 5G every month from today to connect more places to what 5G can enable.

“Our partnerships with Google and Niantic are just the start of our commitment to work with the most innovative and exciting companies in the world to ensure that EE customers are the first to benefit from the exciting new experiences that 5G will bring.”

Cities which will get the technology in 2020 include Aberdeen, Cambridge, Derby, Gloucester, Peterborough, Plymouth, Portsmouth, Southampton, Worcester and Wolverhampton.

The rollout over these years will be the first phase of EE's deployment of 5G: "a ‘non-standalone’ deployment focused on using the combined power of 4G and 5G".

The second phase, from 2022, "will introduce the full next generation 5G core network, enhanced device chipset capabilities, and increased availability of 5G-ready spectrum", EE said.

"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."

The third phase will begin in 2023 and 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," EE said.

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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