We've known for a while that EE and BT were working on getting their 5G services up and running next year, but now we have some solid details on how the networks intend to get that service up and running. It'll start with a 'premium mobile experience' launching in 16 UK cities.
Of course London is one of those cities, and so far EE has revealed Belfast, Birmingham, Cardiff, Edinburgh, and Manchester will get the next-gen mobile networks before the end of next year. The final 10 cities are set to be announced at a late date, so feel free to speculate away. My guess is that Liverpool, Leeds, Newcastle, Glasgow, Sheffield, and Bristol will be among them, given how many of people live there.
So it's not going to be a London centric-operation, which is good for the early adopters who think 4G is old news and should be left in the dust. The downside is that EE CEO Marc Allera confirmed there will be an extra charge for 5G, which will be aimed at customers who want the best of the best of the best.
“5G in 2019 will not be about autonomous cars, and automated factories. 5G in 2019 will be about delivering the best mobile experience you’ve ever had and getting the best speeds and connections. We believe customers will pay a little more for the 5G experience.”
Allera has clarified that the investment in 5G doesn't mean the network is willing to neglect 4G infrastructure, noting how the two are complementary technologies. Because 4G is, essentially, the 'foundation layer' of 5G EE will continue to invest in those services. That said he did note there are challenges in marketing 5G without being critical 4G.
“5G will not replace 4G and that’s a clear message,. We haven’t stopped investing in 4G: We’re upgrading and will continue to upgrade sites. Rural areas need more rural coverage not capacity and we’ve added more sites to give villages and roads a data service for the first time.”
There's no word on when those services will go live, but it would be pointless to try if there are no 5G handsets available. The first ones are expected to be announced during early 2019, so maybe by this time next year you'll be surfing Giz UK on your OnePlus 5G using EE's new network.
Vodafone has also confirmed it intends to launch commercial 5G services next year, to coincide with the launch of 5G phones, while O2 and Three are sticking with their original 2020 launch plan. [TechRadar Pro]