EE is set to launch its 5G network to the public today, marking the start of a new era in the UK’s mobile capabilities.
The BT-owned operator is initially launching in six cities: London, Cardiff, Belfast, Edinburgh, Birmingham and Manchester – with more to follow before the end of the year and into 2020.
5G technology is the next generation of mobile network and is expected to offer internet speeds several times that of current generation 4G.
A number of 5G-capable handsets are available from Samsung, OnePlus, LG, HTC and Oppo, but Huawei has been left off amid ongoing tensions between the US and the Chinese company.
During last week’s 5G announcement by EE, chief executive Marc Allera said it had decided to “pause” the sale of Huawei 5G phones “until we get the information and confidence and the long-term security that our customers – when they buy those devices – are going to be supported for the lifetime that they’ve got the device with us”.
EE is planning to reach 1,500 sites by the end of 2019, including the “busiest parts” of Bristol, Coventry, Glasgow, Hull, Leeds, Leicester, Liverpool, Newcastle, Nottingham and Sheffield.
The operator celebrated the launch on Wednesday evening with a 5G-powered gig by London rapper Stormzy.
Fellow mobile operator Vodafone has confirmed it will launch 5G across seven cities in the UK on July 3, with another 12 cities to follow by the end of the year.