BT 5G coverage and roll-out

BT 5G is available in all the same places as EE 5G, which means parts of 161 UK towns and cities at the time of writing. That’s up from the 71 locations that BT Mobile originally launched 5G in on October 11th, 2019.

However, it’s worth noting that these locations don’t initially have comprehensive 5G coverage. Rather, 5G will be found primarily in places with a high population density. 

Below you’ll find a full guide to BT’s 5G network, including the key places where 5G is available, and how its coverage compares to other UK networks.

BT 5G Summary

BT 5G summary chart

BT 5G coverage

161 UK towns & cities

Coverage checker

Check BT coverage

Network speeds (average download speeds)

5G - 149.9Mbps (Point Topic tests of EE)

4G - 36.4Mbps  (Opensignal tests of EE)

BT 4G and 3G coverage

>99% population coverage

5G phones

No 5G phones on BT currently

5G home broadband

No 5G home broadband on BT currently

5G SIM only

5G SIM only on BT

How does BT's 5G coverage compare to others?

We track 120 major towns and cities in the UK for 5G coverage, and within those locations the networks stack up as follows:

  • O2 has launched 5G in 75 of the 120 locations below. 
  • Three has launched 5G in 82 of the 120 locations below. 
  • EE has launched 5G in 75 of the 120 locations below. 
  • Vodafone has launched 5G in 44 of the 120 locations below. 

The chart below shows the full list of 120 major locations and which networks have coverage in each. Note however that a tick against a place just means a network has some coverage there, not that it’s comprehensive – in many cases it will be patchy, and it will often be stronger outdoors than inside. So it’s always worth taking a look at a network’s official coverage checker before opting for a 5G plan.

Town/City

EE

+BT

Vodafone

+ASDA +VOXI +Virgin +Lebara

Three

+ iD Mobile

O2

+Sky +Tesco +Giffgaff

Aberdeen

Bath

Birmingham

Blackburn

Blackpool

Bolton

Bournemouth

Bradford

Brighton

Bristol

Bromley

Cambridge

Canterbury

Cardiff

Carlisle

Central London

Chelmsford

Chester

Cleveland

Colchester

Coventry

Crewe

Croydon

Darlington

Dartford

Derby

Doncaster

Dorchester

Dudley

Dumfries and Galloway

Dundee

Durham

East London

Edinburgh

Enfield

Exeter

Falkirk and Stirling

Galashiels

Glasgow

Gloucester

Guildford

Halifax

Harrogate

Harrow

Hemel Hempstead

Hereford

Huddersfield

Hull

Ilford

Inverness

Ipswich

Kilmarnock

Kingston upon Thames

Kirkcaldy

Kirkwall

Lancaster

Leeds

Leicester

Lerwick

Lincoln

Liverpool

Llandrindod Wells

Llandudno

Luton

Manchester

Milton Keynes

Motherwell

Newcastle upon Tyne

Newport

North London

North West London

Northampton

Northern Ireland

Norwich

Nottingham

Oldham

Outer Hebrides

Oxford

Paisley

Perth

Peterborough

Plymouth

Portsmouth

Preston

Reading

Redhill

Rochester

Romford

Salisbury

Sheffield

Shrewsbury

Slough

South East London

South West London

Southall

Southampton

Southend-on-Sea

St Albans

Stevenage

Stockport

Stoke-on-Trent

Sunderland

Sutton

Swansea

Swindon

Taunton

Telford

Tonbridge

Torquay

Truro

Twickenham

Wakefield

Walsall

Warrington

Watford

West London

Wigan

Wolverhampton

Worcester

York

Latest locations to get BT 5G

The most recent places that BT (through EE) has brought 5G to (as of July 2021) include Aldridge, Alexandria, Aylesbury, Ayr, Barnsley, Biggleswade, Blackburn, Bolton, Brighton, Chester, Colchester, Dundee, Exeter, Grantham, Gravesend, Harrogate, Lincoln, Milton Keynes, Norwich, Paignton, Poole, Portsmouth, Rickmansworth, Runcorn, Southport, Stockton-on-Tees, Stoke-on-Trent, Stratford-upon-Avon, Sunbury-on-Thames, Swansea, Swindon, Widnes, Wigan, Worcester, and York.

BT coverage checker

BT Mobile has an online coverage checker where you can enter your postcode to view coverage in your area. You can view 5G, 4G, 3G and even 2G coverage.

You should definitely check the 5G coverage in your area before buying a 5G phone or plan, as it won’t initially be available everywhere, even within the cities that have partial coverage.

CHECK BT COVERAGE

4G coverage

If you’re not in a 5G coverage area then you can still use your phone even on a 5G plan, you’ll simply access 4G or 3G, just like you would have been doing for years before 5G arrived.

You can see an overview of BT’s 4G coverage and that of other networks below.

5G networks 4G population coverage (2021)

EE

(+BT)

>99%

Check Coverage

Three

(+ iD Mobile)

>99%

Check Coverage

Vodafone

(+VOXI +Virgin Mobile +Asda + Lebara)

>99%

Check Coverage

O2

(+Sky +Tesco +Giffgaff)

>99%

Check Coverage

5G roaming abroad

At the time of writing, it’s only Vodafone and VOXI that let you roam abroad using 5G (and only in select locations), so on BT you’re limited to 4G or slower. We’ll update this if/when that changes. For 4G and 3G roaming you can use your allowances in 47 destinations (mostly in Europe) without paying extra.

5G network speeds

EE’s average 5G download speed

EE’s median 5G download speed

EE’s max 5G download speed

149.9Mbps (Point Topic)

167.5/130/134.76Mbps (RootMetrics/Point Topic/Speedtest)

753Mbps (Point Topic)

We don’t have much data on BT’s 5G speeds, but we do have quite a bit on EE’s, and they’re likely to be similar since they use the same infrastructure and spectrum.

On that front, you can see the highlights in the chart above. Going by Point Topic data from September 2020, EE has an average 5G download speed of 149.9Mbps, a median 5G download speed of 130Mbps, and a maximum 5G download speed of 753Mbps.

Meanwhile, Speedtest data from Q3 2020 recorded EE’s median 5G download speed as 134.76Mbps, which is similar to the result above, so could well be accurate. On the other hand though, a RootMetrics report from the first half of 2021 included a median 5G download speed of 167.5Mbps for EE in tested cities.

During that same period, RootMetrics also found that EE’s fastest ‘everyday 5G’ median download speed was 162.9Mbps. By everyday 5G it means a combination of 5G-only, and moving between 5G and 4G for the same data activity, to provide a more ‘everyday’ experience, since much of the time users will be moving between 5G and 4G currently.

And there’s also Opensignal data from early 2020 which shows EE’s average 5G download speed as being 149.8Mbps, which again is in line with the above results.

BT for its part has said to expect speeds that on average are around 150Mbps faster than 4G, with peak speeds of potentially 1Gbps.

Latency

We don’t know how low BT’s 5G latency is yet, but in theory latency on 5G can be as little as around 1 millisecond (ms).

That’s a big improvement on the 30-50ms typically seen on 4G, and could be hugely beneficial, as latency is how long a network takes to even respond to a request – so a high latency can hold things up even with superfast data.

EE for its part has said to expect an almost “instant connection” – though we wouldn’t expect anything as low as 1ms just yet.

Indeed, according to late 2019 data from Ookla, UK networks are offering average 5G latency of around 21-26ms.

There’s also a late 2020 RootMetrics report which showed EE’s latency in central London as being 45ms – as with the speed data, BT’s results might be similar.

BT’s 5G frequency allocation

Frequency

Network type

3.6GHz (3600MHz)

5G

3.4GHz (3400MHz)

5G

2.6GHz (2600MHz)

4G

2.1GHz (2100MHz)

3G and 4G

1.8GHz (1800MHz)

2G and 4G

800MHz

4G

700MHz

5G

Mobile signals travel on various different frequencies, with the ones above being used by BT (and EE).

For 5G it currently uses the 3.4GHz and 3.6GHz frequencies, the latter of which it acquired spectrum from at the second 5G spectrum auction. Those are high frequencies, which is beneficial because high frequencies tend to be available in greater capacities, allowing for more simultaneous connections and potentially more reliability and high speeds, even when a lot of users are using a lot of data.

The lower frequency bands which BT uses for 3G and 4G meanwhile can travel further and are better able to pass through obstacles, so they have their own advantages.

BT also has access to some 700MHz spectrum, which has been identified as a good candidate either for 4G or for boosting the range and penetration of 5G signals. EE has now confirmed that this will be used for 5G, so it will presumably be used for 5G by BT too.

BT through EE has access to 40MHz of 3.4GHz spectrum and 40MHz of 3.6GHz spectrum at the time of writing, so 80MHz of 5G spectrum in total. That’s the same total amount as O2, but marginally less than Vodafone (which has 90MHz).

It’s also far less than Three – which has 140MHz in total. that these figures don’t include the aforementioned 700MHz spectrum, as while some networks will use this for 5G, it’s not typically considered 5G spectrum. If you do factor that in though, then BT/EE has 120MHz, O2 has 100MHz, Three has 160MHz, and Vodafone still has 90MHz. That said, there may yet be additional spectrum auctions, so networks may be able to acquire more in future.

Networks that have launched 5G in the UK

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