EE has announced that its 5G mobile network will go live in 6 UK cities next week, on May 30, beating Vodafone to the punch by just weeks.
London, Cardiff, Belfast, Edinburgh, Birmingham and Manchester will be the first to benefit from 5G super-fast mobile speeds from EE. They will be followed by an 10 additional cities before the end of the year.
The mobile operator said its initial focus would be on providing outdoor coverage in areas where customers need it most, with indoor coverage and rural areas following by 2022.
EE chief executive Marc Allera emphasised that 5G would not replace 4G, but be an “additional layer” on top of it. He added that the company “won’t be throttling 4G to make 5G look faster”.
EE is currently the biggest mobile operator in the UK. Its 4G network is now available to more than 85% of the UK’s land mass (equal to more than 99% of the UK population).
The average UK download speed over 4G networks is 19.7Mbps, according to OpenSignal, compared to the 150Mbps download speed that EE is promising over its 5G network.
This will allow customers to download a full season of a TV show in minutes, stream graphics-rich games with virtually no lag, and carry out real-time 4K video calls.
Customers will need a 5G-enabled smartphone to be able to access the new network. OnePlus, Samsung, LG and Oppo are among the device makers who have already announced 5G handsets.
However, the launch of Huawei 5G devices is “on pause” until EE gets more information and confidence that customers will be supported for the lifetime of their contract.
SIM-only data plans will start from £32 per month for 20GB of data, and range up to £52 per month for 100GB of data.
For those who want a new 5G handset as part of their plans, prices start at £54 for 10GB of data, and range up to £74 for 120GB of data.
All of EE’s 5G plans comes with up to three “swappable benefits”, such as subscriptions to Apple Music or BT Sport, free roaming in the USA and Australia, and the ability to stream video content from Netflix or Amazon Prime without eating into their data allowance.
From the summer, EE will also offer a gaming data pass as one of its swappable benefits, allowing customers to game online as much as they want without impacting their data allowance.
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