After reporting that traffic on its next-generation network more than doubled between October and December 2020, EE has made the latest step in the development of its 5G network in the UK.
In the first stage of Ofcom’s 5G auction last month, EE acquired a bundle comprising 2x10MHz of paired frequency 5G spectrum in the 700MHz band at a cost of £280m, 20MHz of supplementary downlink spectrum in the 700MHz band at a cost of £4m, and 40MHz in the 3.6-3.8GHz band at a cost of £168m.
And as the UK eases out of lockdown restrictions and non-essential retail stores, hospitality venues and attractions reopen, the BT-owned UK comms provider is now switching on 5G in 35 new UK towns and cities, bringing its total place count to 160.
In its latest roll-out, EE has added outdoor 5G coverage to some of the UK’s most popular tourist landmarks, historical sites and coastal locations, including: Brighton Pier; Exeter Cathedral; Norwich Cathedral; Paignton Sands; Sandbanks Beach, Poole; Swansea Maritime Quarter and Swansea Bay; the V&A Museum, Dundee; York Minster and York Museum Gardens.
Towns that 5G is coming to include Aylesbury, Ayr, Blackburn, Chester, Exeter, Harrogate, Lincoln, Milton Keynes, Norwich, Portsmouth, Runcorn, Southport, Stoke-on-Trent, Wigan and York.
EE also revealed that London, Birmingham and Manchester were the top three home cities using its 5G network and that it was on track in the coming weeks to achieve the milestone of reaching one million active 5G customers – those having a 5G plan and a 5G-enabled device.
“We have switched on our award-winning 5G network in a further 35 towns and cities across the UK, fulfilling the commitment we set last year to double our 5G place count,” said Marc Allera, CEO of BT’s Consumer Division, parent company of EE. “With the gradual easing of lockdown restrictions expected in the coming weeks and months, the increased capacity and faster speeds of our 5G network will ensure our customers stay connected as footfall starts to increase in historically busy places.”
EE described its spectrum auction purchase as an excellent outcome for the company and its customers, enabling it to drive improved customer experience and help support its future efforts to deliver “industry-leading” innovation. It says it will expand and enhance its 5G network once the new spectrum is rolled out into the network.
The company believes it is on a roll with 5G. In February 2021, in its latest Mobile network index report, EE noted that as it rolled out the 5G network to more places, it was clear that customers were starting to use it more and were making the most of its faster speeds and increased reliability.
The report showed that YouTube, Facebook, Netflix and Instagram retained the top spots as the most popular apps and services on the 5G network, and that traffic grew by at least 30% month-on-month between October and December 2020.