EE 5G coverage and roll-out

EE 5G coverage

EE was the first UK network with a commercial 5G service, having switched on its 5G network on May 30th, 2019.

Currently, 5G on EE (5GEE) is available in just a few major cities. A further 10 locations will be switched on during 2019 with another 10 locations confirmed for 2020. EE will be switching on more than 100 5G sites each month - these are not towns or cities but base sites that cover part of a town or city.

The EE coverage map checker (below) shows the locations with 5G right now and you’ll also find a list of locations set to get 5G soon.

Coverage

EE 5G is initially available in the six high population cities listed below. It's important to mention that these cities do not currently have "blanket" 5G coverage. However, 5G can be found in many areas with a high population density.

Which cities have EE 5G now?

The UK cities which have 5GEE right now are London, Cardiff, Belfast, Edinburgh, Birmingham and Manchester, while other major cities like Bristol, Liverpool and Glasgow won't get 5G till later in 2019.

  • London

In London, areas with 5G include but are not limited to Soho, Covent Garden, South Bank, Shoreditch, Kensington, Southwark, Lambeth, Earl’s Court, Spitalfields, Hoxton, Mile End, West Ham, Canning Town, Greenwich Peninsula, Stratford, Leyton, Somers Town and Finsbury.

  • Manchester

In Manchester the likes of Moss Side, Wharfside, Daisy Nook, Little Moss, Newton Heath, Ardwick, Hulme, Longsight, Higher Broughton, Ellesmere Park and more can enjoy EE 5G.

  • Edinburgh

In Edinburgh you’ll find it in Leith, Broughton, Abbeyhill, Meadowbank, Lochend, Inverleith, Slateford, Saughton, Murrayfield and more.

  • Birmingham

Birmingham offers it in the likes of Bordesley, Ladywood, Jewellery Quarter, Vauxhall, Digbeth, Highgate, Newtown, Birchfield, Attwood Green, Edgbaston, Wake Green, Moseley, Cheswick Green, Metchley, Bournbrook, Chad Valley, Smethwick, Langley Green, Lyng, Wylde Green, Stechford, Balsall Heath, Dickens Heath, and more.

  • Cardiff

In Cardiff, EE 5G is found in Newtown, Butetown, Plasnewydd, Adamsdown, Splott, parts of Cardiff Bay, Riverside, Grangetown, Canton, Saltmead, Pontcanna, Tremorfa, Blackweir, Maindy, Penylan Hill, Llandaff, Gabalfa, Rumney and more.

  • Belfast

As for Belfast, coverage seems a bit more limited, but can be found in the likes of Sandy Row, George Best Belfast City Airport, parts of Titanic Quarter, Dunmurry, Twinbrook, Derriaghy, parts of Donegall Pass, parts of Queen’s Quarter, and more.

How do I check EE 5G coverage?

EE has an online coverage tool where you can enter your postcode to get an accurate estimation of the 5G coverage in your area. EE’s coverage map also shows 4G, 3G and 2G coverage.

We recommend that you check coverage in your area before buying a 5G phone or plan, as it won’t initially be widely available.

Check EE 5G Coverage

What locations will EE 5G roll out to next?

EE has also revealed that by the end of 2019 it will have brought 5G to parts of the following places:

  • Glasgow
  • Newcastle
  • Liverpool
  • Leeds
  • Hull
  • Sheffield
  • Nottingham
  • Leicester
  • Coventry
  • Bristol

EE also installed temporary 5G masts at Glastonbury festival this year, making it the UK’s first 5G festival.

Which other locations are scheduled to get EE 5G?

EE has said that it plans to switch on over 100 5G sites every month, and even outlined some of the places that will get 5G in 2020. Those places include:

  • Aberdeen
  • Cambridge
  • Derby
  • Gloucester
  • Peterborough
  • Plymouth
  • Portsmouth
  • Southampton
  • Wolverhampton
  • Worcester
  • plus more locations TBC

We’d also expect coverage to improve rapidly in the cities that already have EE 5G. As for when other places might get EE 5G, that’s uncertain. The smaller or more remote the place you live, the longer you’re likely to have to wait for 5G, but it’s sure to arrive sooner or later.

Even when 5G does arrive in your area, it might initially be quite limited in what you can do with it, as while there's lots of talk of connected cars, smart cities and the like, EE's - and indeed most networks' - first priority will be smartphones and mobile broadband. 

How does EE's 5G coverage compare to the other mobile networks?

Currently EE is the only UK network with any 5G coverage, but that will be changing soon, with Vodafone set to launch 5G in Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Glasgow, Liverpool, London and Manchester on July 3rd, and Three bringing it to London in August.

You can see a comparison of each network's launch locations below - note that this list of cities only includes places that at least one network offered 5G in on day one, and doesn't include places where no network yet has 5G. For more complete lists, check each networks’ full coverage page (or scroll up for EE’s).

5G confirmed launch comparison

Cities

EE

Vodafone

Three

O2

Belfast

Launched

2020

2020

October

Birmingham

Launched

Launched

2019

2020

Bristol

2019

Launched

2019

2019

Cardiff

Launched

Launched

2019

October

Edinburgh

Launched

2020

2019

October

Glasgow

2019

Launched

2019

2020

Liverpool

2019

Launched

2019

2020

London

Launched

Launched

August

October

Manchester

Launched

Launched

2019

2020

If your location is not listed in the table above use the coverage checker to find out more.

What happens if I’m not in a 5G coverage area?

If you’re not in a 5G coverage area then you’ll have to rely on 4G or 3G coverage, just as you would have done before 5G launched. You’ll find an overview of EE’s 4G coverage below.

4G coverage / comparison

Not only is EE currently the only network with any 5G coverage, it likely has more 4G coverage than any rival network, so even in places where you can’t get 5G you should be in good hands. Below you’ll find a 4G coverage comparison between EE and the other main UK networks, based on the latest available data.

Network

4G population coverage

EE

>99%

Three

99.8%

Vodafone

99%

O2

99%

 

Check EE 4G/ 5G Coverage

5G coverage abroad

Currently EE doesn’t offer 5G roaming, so the best you’ll get when abroad is 4G speeds. We’d expect this will change over time and will update this article if/when it does.

Speed and latency

5G offers higher speeds and lower latency than 4G, but the specifics will vary by network and likely change over time. Data on EE’s speeds is currently limited, but below you’ll find all the information we have so far.

Current speeds

EE says that currently users should expect speeds that are typically 100-150Mbps faster than 4G. Speeds on 4G can vary, but OpenSignal’s Mobile Networks Update from October 2018 put EE’s at 28.9Mbps on average, while the most its 4G plans support is 90Mbps, so on EE 5G you should theoretically average around 130Mbps – 240Mbps. However, top speeds could currently exceed 1Gbps according to the network.

Future speeds

Things get vaguer here, but speeds could well increase around 2022, when EE plans to begin ‘phase 2’ of its 5G network, a phase which is less reliant on 4G. They may get faster still during ‘phase 3’ from 2023.

Exactly how fast remains to be seen, but some estimates suggest 5G speeds could ultimately reach or exceed 10Gbps, which would be ten times more than EE’s current peak speeds.

Latency

Latency is how long the mobile network takes to respond to a request. So it’s the period of time before data even begins travelling. It’s measured in milliseconds (ms), but while on 4G networks it’s often around 40-50ms, with 5G it could be as low as 1ms.

EE hasn’t revealed exactly how low latency its 5G network is yet, but it has said to expect an almost “instant connection”, which should be hugely beneficial to gamers, but will also help any other thing that requires the internet seem smoother and slicker than on 4G.

EE spectrum

EE came out of Ofcom’s first 5G spectrum auction with 40Mhz of 3.4GHz spectrum, specifically the 3540MHz – 3580MHz part of the band. It paid £302,592,000 for that.

It won more of the 3.4GHz band – which is ideal for 5G – than Three (which won just 20MHz), but the same amount as O2 and less than Vodafone, which came away with 50Mhz.

However, EE also has 255MHz of immediately useable spectrum in other bands less suited to 5G, which means it has more spectrum overall than any other UK network.

Immediately useable spectrum

3.4GHz held

3.4GHz allocation

Total spectrum held

255MHz

40Mhz

3540 – 3580MHz

295MHz

Note: 'Immediately useable spectrum' refers to spectrum in various bands that can be used now for 4G, 3G and 2G. EE holds spectrum in the 800MHz, 1.8GHz, 2.1GHz and 2.6GHz bands.

It’s also worth noting that there are set to be future 5G auctions for spectrum in the 3.6GHz - 3.8GHz bands and the 700MHz band, as well likely as the 26GHz and 8GHz bands, and potentially others, which Ofcom is set to discuss at WRC-19, so there’s time for EE to collect more spectrum, and it already has more overall than any rival – albeit less that’s ideally suited for 5G than some.

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