Back in June EE announced it would be launching its own 5G trials in the London area. Initially the network said this would be the UK's first proper 5G trial, even though there was a chance O2's own 5G testbed would kick off first. Well now EE really has beaten O2 to the punch, because it's kicked off its first 5G trial in the Canary Wharf area.
This trial is using a bunch of Huawei network technology (which isn't that surprising) in conjunction with some of the 3.4GHz spectrum EE bought in the Ofcom auction - with the overall goal being to see how 5G behaves in a real life setting. You know, because stuff happens in the real world that you just can't replicate in the lab, like protests from outrageous new-age hipsters who think 5G signals will boil their brains while they sleep.
The trial itself is taking place in Montgomery Square, a location that gets an average of 150,000 visitors every day. With such a high volume of people at any given time, and the fact it's a 'clean' site in terms of network equipment, it's a pretty sensible place to kick the whole thing off. Speaking to TechRadar Pro, Tom Bennett, director of network services and devices at EE, said that the 5G rollout is completely new because they can't just reuse older equipment - as was the case with 4G.
The equipment at the site will also be hooked up to a lab core network, which functions as a replica of EE’s commercial core network, and will link up to other test sites as and when they come online. Walling it off also means that it's possible to test 5G in whatever ways are necessary without having any impact on existing services.
Another testbed is set to launch in Shoreditch later this year, which will present different challenges to the Montgomery Square tests. Mainly because it isn't as 'clean' an area. Exactly when it will happen isn't clear yet, but EE will no doubt let us know. Not that it really matters to us, since we don't have any commercial 5G devices to use. But hey. [TechRadar Pro]