UK mobile network EE has picked 16 cities across the UK to take part in its roll-out of 5G technologies in 2019.
The first 5G sites to go live will be in the UK’s four capital cites of London, Cardiff, Edinburgh and Belfast.
The decision follows the launch of its first 5G hotspot last month in a pilot at Canary Wharf, but deployment is “far from straightforward” EE said.
EE told Computer Business Review at the time: “The site is massive MIMO – 64×64. So far this morning, we’re seeing 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.”
5G Rollout Coming Faster than Expected
The news comes as 5G looks set to happen faster than many anticipated globally. US chipmaker Qualcomm for example last week said that it expects the first mobile 5G network launches will begin in the second calendar quarter next year, with commercial launches occurring simultaneously across the US, Europe, China, Japan, South Korea, and Australia.
“In total, we are working with more than 18 OEMs who have committed to launch 5G handsets in 2019 based on our 5G and our X50 modems,” Qualcomm told analysts.
EE’s 5G sites within these cities have been built in centres of activity that see large volumes of public foot and data traffic, such as Hyde Park in London and Belfast City Airport.
The other 12 cities included in EE’s 5G infrastructure push are Birmingham, Manchester, Glasgow, Newcastle, Liverpool, Leeds, Hull, Sheffield, Nottingham, Leicester, Coventry and Bristol.
Marc Allera CEO of EE owner BT’s Consumer division said in a release: “Adding 5G to the UK’s number one 4G network will increase reliability, increase speeds, and keep our customers connected where they need it most.”
“This is another milestone for the UK and for our network journey – we’ll keep evolving as we move to one, smart network for our customers. We have an ambition to connect our customers to 4G, 5G or WiFi 100% of the time.”
The need for 5G infrastructure is highlighted by the modern demand by consumers for fast data connectivity.
In the last three months according to EE over 2.1 million individual customers connected to antennas around Waterloo station, one site alone was tasked with handling 100 terabytes of data per day.
At the start of this month EE stated that nine trial 5G sites in London are operational. All nine sites are located within East London.
The East London trial of 5G sites are essentially full policy test cases, as EE went through all the steps that would be required to roll-out commercial 5G infrastructure.
EE began by obtaining planning permission for the sites in East London as well as access agreements, they also had to set up a system to manage the power outputs from the sites.
Howard Watson BT CTIO said in a release: “Deploying this brand new layer of our EE mobile network is far from straightforward, and this trial has helped us to understand – and learn how to overcome – the significant challenges that we’ll face in the coming years.”
“We’re also learning about the coverage we can achieve with 5G New Radio on our new 3.4GHz spectrum, both indoors and in densely cluttered streets.”
Many of the new 5G sites in East London were built on top of existing 4G antennas. However the 5G antennas weigh 50kg which is heavy than antennas required for the 4G network. This extra weight required some roof tops to be reinforced as they house three of the weighty 5G antennas.