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Stormzy Gig for EE’s 5G Launch – And Huawei’s At the Party

"I had a couple seeds, I made a forest; I put in the work and take the profit..."

By CBR Staff Writer

EE says it will live stream a special Stormzy gig to mark the launch of its 5G network across six UK sites on Thursday May 30.

The gig by the platinum-selling UK grime artist will be hosted in a “top secret” central London location, the company said, and streamed via the new bandwidth, which the BT-owned firm said could see some customers “break the one gigabit-per-second milestone on their 5G smartphones”.

(That’s some way off the speeds estimated in Ofcom’s “Enabling 5G in the UK”, report, which sees peak 5G speeds of 10-20 gigabits-per- second…)

China’s Huawei was keen to make hay of the news, sending Computer Business Review a release noting its role in the new network.

EE acknowledged that the network specialist, under sustained pressure from US policy makers over espionage fears, was involved.

Stormzy Gig or No, Huawei Remains a “Valued Innovation Partner”

An EE spokesman said: “In 2016, following the acquisition of EE, we began a process to remove Huawei equipment from the core of our 3G and 4G networks, as part of network architecture principles in place since 2006.”

“We’re applying these same principles to our current RFP for 5G core infrastructure. As a result, Huawei has not been included in vendor selection for our 5G core. Huawei remains an important equipment provider outside the core network, and a valued innovation partner.”

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EE first live-tested 5G in Canary Wharf in October 2018, to assess spectrum and devices for performance, speed and coverage.

An EE spokesman told Computer Business Review at the time: “The site is massive MIMO – 64×64. [We saw] around 1.3Gbps on the test equipment. That’s aggregating our 40MHz of 3.4GHz NR, with 15MHz of 2100 LTE and 15MHz of 2600 LTE. The Huawei CPE we’re using supports 5MHz of LTE and the 40 of 3.4 NR, and that’s getting around 600Mbps.”

EE did not immediately confirm if the same infrastructure was underpinning next week’s launch, which will happen simultaneously in London, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Belfast, Birmingham and Manchester.

Fans can win tickets to attend the Stormzy gig, meanwhile, at co.uk/Stormzy. It will also be made available as a 360-degree VR experience for fans in the five other UK cities to have a ‘front row seat’ at the performance.

To work, 5G needs what former Ofcom director William Webb describes as “huge numbers of small cells, antennas with hundreds of discrete elements, computing provided at the edge of the network and high-performance network cores running virtualised functions.”

Operators have been concerned about the capex of rolling out this infrastructure, but as a December 2018 report by Deloitte notes, “the picture for 5G looks better for operators than was first thought.”

“As 2018’s field trials progressed, many operators in North America, Europe, and Japan are reevaluating the cost, and releasing public guidance that capex intensity for 5G will be more or less flat with their 4G spending. One major reason for this is that they have “pre-loaded” spending by aggressively investing in denser fiber networks (both in anticipation of 5G in the future and to support 4.5G technology today), as well as by purchasing 5G-ready radio hardware that can be upgraded to full 5G with software upgrades when the time for launch comes.”

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