UK MOBILE OPERATOR EE has announced that it will switch on its 5G network on 30 May, beating rival Vodafone to the punch.
At an event in London on Wednesday attended by INQ, Marc Allera, CEO of BT's consumer brands, announced that EE's super-fast network will launch next week in six of the UK's busiest cities: London, Cardiff, Belfast, Edinburgh, Birmingham Manchester.
The network, which will initially focus on outdoor areas before moving to boost indoor areas, won't cover the entirety of these cities. EE says it has instead adopted a "demand-led" strategy, focusing on specific areas - such as Wembley Stadium and Hyde Park "where the need is greatest".
A further 10 cities - Glasgow, Newcastle, Liverpool, Leeds, Hull, Sheffield, Nottingham, Leicester, Coventry and Bristol - will be hooked up to the 5G network later in the year.
Aberdeen, Cambridge, Derby, Gloucester, Peterborough, Plymouth, Portsmouth, Southampton, Worcester and Wolverhampton are pencilled in to get 5G connectivity in 2020.
Marc Allera, CEO of BT's consumer brands, swooned: "What we're launching today is the start of a new journey. We are going to be the first operator in the UK, and one of the first in Europe, to launch 5G."
"We're upgrading more than 100 sites to 5G every month from today to connect more places to what 5G can enable."
While Allera was keen to stress that 5G isn't all about "peak speeds" and is more about improving coverage in densely-populated areas, he noted that consumers will see a speed increase of, on average, 150Mbps.
Unsurprisingly, 5G ain't going to come cheap. EE's 5G smart plans, which will come with "swappable benefits" including exclusive add-ons for 5G customers, will offer customers between 10GB and 120GB data, with prices starting from £54 per month. SIM-only plans will also be on offer from £32, equipping early 5G adopters with between 20GB and 100GB data.
5G tariffs will also be available for SMEs; handset plans will offer 10-100GB data for £45-£75, while SIM-only plans will offer 5GB-200GB data from £19 to £44.
EE's first 5G devices, which will include handsets from the likes of OnePlus, Samsung and Oppo. The firm was also planning to offer 5G-capable Huawei handsets but notes that it has put these plans on hold in light of the US ban looming over the company.
EE will also be launching the HTC 5G Hub, which will be for an upfront cost of £100 with 50GB of data per month for £50 per month, with 100GB data for, er, £75 per month.
EE's announcement comes just days after Vodafone announced that it'll switch on its 5G network on 3 July. Both are miles ahead of rivals Three and O2 however, both of which will launch 5G networks in the second half of 2019. µ
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