EE will be the first UK network to introduce 5G, it confirmed today, as it is set to roll out the new technology to cities from 30 May.
It means the provider will beat Vodafone’s launch date of 3 July.
EE will switch on its 5G service in London, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Belfast, Birmingham and Manchester on Thursday, 30 May.
Bristol, Coventry, Leicester, Nottingham, Sheffield, Liverpool, Hull, Leeds, Newcastle and Glasgow will also receive 5G this year, chief executive Marc Allera confirmed today.
“We’re adding 5G to the UK’s number one 4G network to increase reliability, increase speeds, and keep our customers connected where they need it most,” Allera said.
“5G will create new experiences with augmented reality, make our customers’ lives easier, and help launch entirely new businesses that we haven’t even imagined.”
A second stage rollout will see Aberdeen, Bournemouth, Brighton, Cambridge, Dundee, Exeter, Ipswich, Norwich, Plymouth and York get 5G in 2020 on EE.
The number of launch cities will start at six before rising to 50 by this time next year as EE progresses with a roll out target of 100 locations every month.
“Being first-to-market with 5G matters little to consumers, but is clearly an important honour for BT,” said Kester Mann, principle analyst for operators at research firm CCS Insight.
“In getting 5G as soon as next week the UK will have completed a remarkable turnaround, from laggard to leader. In 2012, it become only the 53rd nation to launch 4G. Now, with all four networks planning to go live in 2019, it can justifiably claim to be one of the world’s 5G pace-setters.”
However, while Huawei will remain a 5G partner with EE, the BT-owned network has delayed the introduction of Huawei 5G phones following Google’s decision to ban the Chinese firm amid US spying claims.
“Lots of uncertainty surrounds 5G in light of the recent security concerns surrounding Huawei,” said telecoms analyst Paolo Pescatore of PP Insight.
“The lack of any Huawei 5G smartphones is noticeable – a move that makes sense for now.
“Consumers are starting to be wary about Huawei products and quite possibly other Chinese products. This will have a negative impact on 5G consumer take-up in the short term.”