EE and Three have have gone head-to-head, both deciding that today is the day for dropping updates about their 5G plans. EE − which has the bigger announcement − has expanded its 5G trial, ahead of the planned launch of its next-generation network in 2019.
The mobile operator, which launched real-life trials of the next-gen network in London’s Canary Wharf, has just announced that nine new 5G trial sites have gone live across parts of East London, covering:
- Provost Street
- City Road
- Central Street
- Old Street
- St Paul’s
- Finsbury Circus Garden
- Clerkenwell Street
- Bartholomew Square
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The Kevin Bacon-fronted network says its trial has already highlighted several practical challenges tied to the deployment of 5G, which is expected to bring with it a multitude of benefits over 4G, including faster download speeds and lower latency.
EE says it has so far learned the following from its trials:
- Rooftop sites often need significant strengthening to carry 5G antennas – which weigh in at a rather hefty 50kg − and some sites need to be able to hold up to three of these. What’s more, the level of upgrade work required can cause delays in obtaining planning permission, which can force repeat visits, which in turn requires multiple access requests to be made to landlords.
- 5G antennas can’t simply be placed anywhere, as there’s a requirement to stay below regulated power output levels.
“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,” said Howard Watson, BT’s CTIO.
“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.”
Three, meanwhile, has revealed plans to switch on its 5G network in the second half of 2019, and says it will pump more than £2 billion into the technology.
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“Also described as wireless fibre, 5G delivers a huge increase in capacity together with ultra-low latency,” said Dave Dyson, the CEO of Three.
“It opens up new possibilities in home broadband and industrial applications, as well as being able to support the rapid growth in mobile data usage.
“This is a major investment into the UK’s digital infrastructure. UK consumers have an insatiable appetite for data and 5G unlocks significant capability to meet that demand.”
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