EE Sets 5G Network Launch in UK for May 22; 5G Phones Available Now

EE Ltd logo (Photo: EE)

EE Limited, the largest mobile operator in the United Kingdom and Europe's largest 4G operator, said it will launch its superfast 5G services in the UK on Wednesday.

EE said its 5G network will come alive on May 30. EE's announcement makes it the first UK network to launch commercial 5G.

The first phase of EE's 5G rollout will see 1,500 sites go live over the next two years. The second and third phases of the rollout are scheduled for 2022 and 2023.

Phase two will bring the full next-generation 5G core network. EE sees phase three enabling the "tactile internet," where a sense of touch can be added to remote real-time interactions.

The first 5G smartphones are available to preorder starting today. EE's 5G smartphone range will include models from Samsung Electronics, LG and OnePlus.

The first 5G smartphones EE will offer on its 5G plans include the Samsung Galaxy S10, OnePlus 7 Pro, the Oppo Reno 5G and the LG V50 ThinQ. There will also be a 5G home router and an HTC Wi-Fi device.

Plans start from $68 (£54) per month (10 GB of data) and extend up to $94 (£74) per month (120 GB of data).

EE's initial 5G rollout will occur in London, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Belfast, Birmingham, and Manchester. The company vows to expand to 19 cities by the end of the year. It said it will have 1,500 5G sites by the end of 2019.

EE CEO Marc Allera promised EE's 5G customers will experience average download speeds of 156 Mbps. He said this will be "like having a lane of the motorway all to yourself."

Allera said 5G won't replace 4G, but 5G becomes another asset in EE's network. He promised the network won't throttle its 4G services to make its 5G seem faster. He warned that in the initial stage,s the two networks will work together to provide customers with the best experience.

"EE is making such a strong statement here today," said Qualcomm President Cristiano Amon speaking at EE's 5G launch event.

EE had originally decided to sell 5G phones from Huawei Technologies Co Ltd. but decided against it at the last moment.

"We've put the Huawei devices on pause until we've got a bit more information on that," said Allera, referring to the controversies surrounding Huawei in the United States.

Vodafone Group plans to launch its own 5G on July 3. Three and O2 are widely expected to launch 5G networks this year, but no dates have been revealed.

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