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EE to switch on UK's first 5G trial network in East London this October

Wednesday, June 6th 2018 by Phil Wilkinson-Jones

EE will switch on the UK’s first 5G trial network later this year, connecting a handful customers in East London to the next generation of mobile technology.

The trial, which will take place in October, will see 5G switched on at 10 sites around East London including City Road, Old Street, Hoxton Square, St Paul’s and Chiswell Street, while five households and five small businesses will be given prototype 5G broadband devices to help put the new technology through its paces.

EE said it is aiming to deliver speeds in excess of 1Gbps with its 5G trial, as well as to demonstrate the ability of 5G to provide the fastest speeds even in densely populated urban environments.

The network will also create more reliable and responsive mobile internet connections, enabling the widespread adoption of virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) in apps and services.

Digital minister Margot James said: "We want the UK to be a global leader in 5G as part of our ambition to create a world-leading digital economy that works for everyone.

'Front of the pack'

“Together with the government's own test beds and trials programme, industry initiatives like this will help deliver the benefits of this new revolutionary technology to businesses and consumers across the UK."

Marc Allera, CEO of BT’s consumer business, which includes EE, said: “This live trial is a big step forward in making the benefits of 5G a reality for our customers, and in making sure that the UK is at the front of the pack for 5G technology.

“We’re focusing our resource and experience across EE and BT to ensure that we continue to lead the UK market with a mobile network that keeps giving our customers the best speeds and the best coverage. 5G is a fundamental part of our work to build a converged, smart network that keeps our customers connected to the things that matter most.”

EE will use its existing 4G network as the basis for testing and eventually rolling out 5G – and it’s not the only provider upgrading its mobile masts with cutting edge technology.

Last year, we reported that Vodafone had started installing ‘Massive MIMO’ antenna panels on its cell towers, a technology that forms ‘beams’ of signal around individual users, improving coverage and speed.

Kye Prigg, Vodafone UK’s head of mobile networks, described the technology as one of the building blocks of 5G. “Massive MIMO is what 5G is going to be all about,” he said.

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