EE, the UK’s number one mobile network and part of BT Group, today announced that nine 5G trial sites are now live across East London.
The trial has so far encompassed every element of building a new 5G network, from obtaining planning permission and access agreements, through to managing power outputs. The trial will go on to assess the customer experience of new 5G spectrum.
Howard Watson, BT CTIO, said: “Deploying this brand new layer of our EE mobile network is far from straightforward, and this trial has helped us to understand – and learn how to overcome – the significant challenges that we’ll face in the coming years. We’re also learning about the coverage we can achieve with 5G New Radio on our new 3.4GHz spectrum, both indoors and in densely cluttered streets.”
Upgrading 4G was often made easier by being able to repurpose existing antennas, but new equipment at each site is essential to 5G. The trial has highlighted the following key challenges when deploying 5G:
- Rooftop sites often need significant strengthening to carry the new 50kg 5G antennas – and some sites house three of these
- The level of upgrade work required can cause delays in obtaining planning permission, and can necessitate repeat visits, which means multiple access requests to landlords
- Location for 5G antennas can be dictated by the need to stay below regulated power output levels < https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/mobile-phone-base-stations-radio-waves-and-health/mobile-phone-base-stations-radio-waves-and-health >
EE’s nine trial sites in East London cover Provost Street, City Road, Central Street, Old Street, Cheapside, St Paul’s, Finsbury Circus Garden, Clerkenwell Street and Bartholomew Square.
Businesses and consumers in these areas are being invited to join the trial, which will first use 5G as an alternative to their fixed broadband.
As well as these sites in East London, EE is also currently trialling live 5G in Canary Wharf, and new device functionality is being tested in the state-of-the-art Borehamwood test lab.
EE aims to be the UK’s first mobile network to offer consumers and businesses 5G, and the 5G network is being launched in 2019 in the busiest parts of the UK’s busiest cities.