Six UK cities will soon have superfast 5G mobile networks, with EE winning the race to be the first provider in the country to make its service commercially available.
EE will switch on its 5G service in London, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Belfast, Birmingham and Manchester on 30 May. A further 10 cities are expected to follow suit later this year, including Bristol, Leicester, Liverpool and Newcastle. To achieve this, EE plans to install 100 new 5G sites each month in 2019.
Later, during 2020, EE will start focusing on towns and smaller cities, including Aberdeen, Gloucester and Portsmouth.
To showcase just what 5G will offer early adopters, EE announced three big changes that anyone connected to its new network will be able to enjoy.
First, the increased capacity means users will still get service in very busy areas, such as sports arenas and festival sites – where current networks are known to struggle or collapse altogether. Secondly, speeds are expected to triple, with an anticipated average of 150Mbps far eclipsing the 50Mbps that was on offer when 4G first launched. Finally, gamers can expect much lower latency – meaning there’ll be significantly less lag as data is transferred between device and game server. This will also help with augmented reality services, many of which are expected to launch as a direct result of the 5G roll out.
It is features such as capacity and lower latency that many observers have said will be the key selling point of 5G. Mobile analyst Matthew Howett told the BBC that, “while peak download speeds will be faster, crucially there will be more capacity, which will allow for a whole host of new applications and services.”
Though an exciting development, EE itself has been keen to highlight how this roll out is just the first phase in what will be a long and detailed process. It says that “full, next-generation” 5G won’t actually be available until 2022.
Commenting on the development, Marc Allera of BT (which owns EE) said:
“This is the start of the UK’s 5G journey and great news for our customers that want and need the best connections.”