Starting next year, Belfast will be one of six cities included in the first phase of 5G roll-out by UK network EE.
Part of the BT Group, UK mobile network EE has announced a total of 16 cities will have 5G broadband switched on in 2019, with Belfast, London, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Birmingham and Manchester being the first to get it as part of phase one.
In its announcement, EE said 5G capacity will be installed at each of the cities’ busiest locations including Belfast City Airport, Hyde Park in London, the Manchester Arena, the Welsh Assembly, Edinburgh Waverly train station and Birmingham’s Bullring.
As well as the six launch cities, throughout 2019, EE said it will also be introducing 5G across the busiest parts of 10 more UK cities: Glasgow, Newcastle, Liverpool, Leeds, Hull, Sheffield, Nottingham, Leicester, Coventry and Bristol.
The first 1,500 sites that EE is upgrading to 5G in 2019 carry 25pc of all data across the whole network but only cover 15pc of the UK population. The upgrades include 10Gbps speeds at each of the 5G sites with the network also announcing plans to expand 4G coverage into rural parts of the UK following the installation of 250 new sites this year.
2019 a big year for 5G
“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,” said Marc Allera, CEO of BT’s consumer division.
“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 Wi-Fi 100pc of the time.”
The news swiftly follows Three’s statement that it is undertaking a £2bn investment in 5G infrastructure across the UK.
Three has acquired 5G spectrum and signed agreements for the roll-out of new cell site technology to prepare major urban areas for the roll-out of 5G devices as well as to enhance the existing 4G service.