By Juan Pedro Tomás
UK carrier EE, part of telecom group BT, expects to reach half of the UK population with its 5G service by early 2023, BT said in a release.
The telco said that its 5G network will reach 90 per cent of the country’s territory by 2028.
To reach this benchmark, EE said that its recently obtained 700 MHz 5G spectrum will be deployed across the majority of EE sites, offering indoor and wider rural coverage.
EE had previously secured 2×10 megahertz of paired frequency spectrum in the 700 MHz band at a cost of £280 million (currently US$388.8 million); 20 megahertz of supplementary downlink spectrum in the 700 MHz band at a cost of £4 million; and 40 megahertz in the 3.6-3.8 GHz band for £168 million.
CEO of BT Group, Philip Jansen said: “Over the past 18 months we’ve helped the UK to meet the demands of a pandemic. We must now look ahead to deliver the strongest foundations to drive future growth. We’re making a uniquely ambitious, long-term commitment to drive high performance 5G further and faster, and to integrate it at the core with our fiber network for a seamless customer experience.”
BT’s EE said that it aims to boost its 4G rollout, with plans to add 4,500 square miles of new signal, reaching more than 90 per cent of the UK by 2025. The carrier will also use this investment to support the government’s Emergency Services Network.
The company also confirmed plans to shut down its legacy 3G network infrastructure by 2023. BT noted that 3G usage has been in steady decline, currently representing less than 2 per cent of data traffic over the EE network. The carrier also said that the spectrum will be used to enhance 5G capacity in the future. “Removing legacy technologies means BT could diversify the range of future partners, which is key for developing opportunities like Open RAN in the future.”
EE initially launched 5G technology in London, Edinburgh, Belfast, Cardiff, Birmingham and Manchester. Other large cities in which the telco offers 5G coverage includes Bristol, Covently, Hull, Leeds, Leicester, Liverpool, Newcastle, Nottingham, Sheffield and Sunderland.
The telco has said that it was expecting to reach one million active 5G customers by the end of April. London, Birmingham, Manchester and Glasgow are the cities where EE has the highest number of 5G users.