These six UK cities will get 5G in 2019

EE announces the six UK cities to get 5G connectivity first

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5G connectivity is coming. There’s been a big push of late to upgrade the UK’s mobile network infrastructure to the super-fast 5G standard and now mobile carrier EE has announced the first cities in the UK to get the technology next year.

Building on EE’s existing trials, 5G connectivity will be available in London, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Belfast, Birmingham and Manchester by mid-2019. By the end of 2019 EE plans to have connected up another 10 cities.

EE isn’t the only network in the UK focused on bringing speeds of up to 10Gbits/sec to phones. O2 and Three are looking to utilise London’s sewer network to spread 5G across the city and six firms were given £25 million in government grants to help build up the UK’s 5G infrastructure.

5G brings with it a whole host of benefits beyond simple speed increases, including a more reliable connection and improved security. With a mesh of different connectivity options across cities, BT’s consumer division head Marc Allera explained that the company has “an ambition to connect our customers to 4G, 5G or Wi-Fi 100% of the time”.

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While this is clearly progress for 5G connectivity in the UK, the government could throw a spanner in the works for rollout after it instructed firms to be careful about the hardware it used. The letter, which was reported on in the Financial Times, warned that there may be a limit on just how much equipment from Chinese company Huawei could be used.

Huawei has long been banned in the US for supposed, and unproven ties to the Chinese government. This sentiment has now extended to Australia, which has also banned the use of Huawei’s technology for 5G rollout.

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5G rollout by mid-2019 may sound fantastic but, for many consumers, it’s still going to be a short while before they adopt technologies that can actually make use of it. Qualcomm has stated that it plans to roll out 5G-enabled chips by next year, but only a smattering of smartphones will be using them by the end of 2019. 2020 will be when a majority of flagship phones can connect to a 5G network and, even then, many people opt for cheaper or older devices and thus won’t be able to utilise 5G connectivity. There are also talks for 5G-enabled cars to land in 2020.

Allera did explain that consumers on a 5G contract will “pay a little more” for 5G due to the speed and responsiveness, but let’s hope people don’t sign up for something they can’t use.

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