EE has announced an ambitious plan to deliver 5G coverage across 90% of the UK’s landmass by 2028. That would make for greater geographic coverage than 4G or 3G currently offer on any network, so while that’s seven years from now it’s still a lofty goal.
But what about that final 10%? EE has plans for that too, saying that it will offer ‘on-demand’ solutions for those places that don’t have permanent 5G coverage, which will presumably mostly be very rural locations.
These on-demand solutions could include things like portable cells, which could provide temporary 5G coverage to areas that don’t have any. These could be supplied to customers on request (and presumably for an as-yet-unknown cost). Drones and Low Earth Orbit satellites are also mentioned as technologies that could be used for this.
You shouldn’t have to wait until 2028 for big improvements though, as EE has also said that its 5G network will cover half of the UK’s population by early 2023, which is four years earlier than the government is aiming for.
Reaching these milestones will be achieved with the help of the 700MHz spectrum that EE acquired in the recent 5G spectrum auction. This low frequency spectrum will apparently be deployed at the majority of the network’s sites, with a goal of improving rural and indoor coverage, two things that work to this spectrum’s strengths, as it can travel long distances and is and good at passing through obstacles. Redditch, Morecambe and Cramlington will be the first towns to benefit from this.
5G and fibre
Those are arguably the highlights of EE’s latest announcement, but the company has said plenty of other things too, such as that with the help of BT (which owns EE) it’s going to combine its mobile infrastructure with BT’s Wi-Fi and fibre, to deliver the UK’s first fully converged network, which will apparently allow for revolutionary new services and more seamless connectivity.
And to help with this, EE plans to launch a new 5G core network control system by 2023, an upgrade which could additionally help resolve network issues faster, and route services through the best available connection.
Beyond 5G, EE has said that it will add over 4,500 square miles of new 4G signal by 2025, which is the equivalent of more than 1.5 million Wembley pitches. 3G meanwhile will be retired by 2023, with all EE, BT Mobile and Plusnet Mobile customers moved off of it by then.
Unless you’re hanging on to a truly ancient phone though this is good news, as that spectrum will be freed up to enhance the capacity available for 5G.