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BT's EE launches 'UK's first' 5G trial site in London

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BT-owned mobile operator EE has become the first UK telco to launch a 5G trial site, ahead of wider rollouts planned ahead.

BT-owned mobile operator EE has become the first UK telco to launch a 5G trial site, ahead of wider rollouts planned ahead.

EE has launched a live 5G trial at Canary Wharf in London, a site visited by around 150,000 people every day. The trial will test 5G spectrum and devices for performance, speed and coverage.

EE said that high capacity testing is a key part of its plans to launch 5G. It will deploy a number of 5G ‘hotspots’ across the UK, with an initial 10 sites due to go live for consumer and business testing in London later this month.

Fotis Karonis, 5G Technology Lead at BT Group, said: “This is the latest milestone in our 5G rollout – a live test of our 5G network, in a hugely busy ‘hotspot’, where we know there’s going to be demand from customers for increased mobile capacity.

“With constant upgrades to 4G, and laying the foundations for 5G, we’re working to always be able to deliver what our customers need – both consumers and the vertical industries that will make the greatest use of 5G. We were UK pioneers with 4G and today we saw the UK’s first live connections on 5G - this is a huge step forward for our digital infrastructure.”

An EE source told Capacity last year that it expected to launch some commercial 5G services in 2019, following 5G trials which would be launched this year. EE was also the first UK mobile operator to launch 4G services, back in 2012 after the company was formed from the merger of Orange UK and T-Mobile in 2010.

In 2014, then Mayor of London Boris Johnson pledged to bring 5G services to London by 2020, but Europe has faced warnings from a number of industry bodies that it is at risk of lagging behind the US, Japan and South Korea. Verizon, for example, launched 5G fixed wireless access earlier this month, while AT&T has already rolled out 5G mobile trials. South Korea showcased the technology during the 2018 Winter Olympics.

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