(Pocket-lint) - EE officially launched 5G back in mid 2019, the first network in the UK to offer a 5G service. Here's everything you need to know about EE 5G.
Like all the networks now, EE has a great choice of 5G phones including the best from Apple, Google, Motorola, Oppo, Samsung, Sony and more. Check out the 5G phones available from EE.
What is 5G?
5G is the name given to the next-gen phone service, following on from 4G. It doesn't replace 4G or even 3G, the new service is an addition to 4G, offering faster connection speeds and lower latency for those with compatible handsets.
In the short term, it's enabling instant access to things like video and music, letting you download TV episodes or movies in seconds, better lag-free gaming and less time waiting for things to happen. In the future, it will allow enhanced AR services, wider connectivity of things like cars and unlock services we're yet to think of.
Where is EE 5G available?
EE 5G is now available in a total of 160 locations at present. That's not as many as Three UK at present, but as BT/EE consumer chief Marc Allera said in early 2021 EE doesn't want to announce locations that aren't ready:
"I’m often asked, why bother with any criteria, why not just announce when even one site is live somewhere? Well, we believe customers need to trust our network, so their experience matches their expectations.
"We could loosen our criteria like some competitors; to be honest, it’s tempting, by so doing we would reveal 5G is actually in around 200 unique locations across the UK. However, we believe our claims should be as credible as our 5G is usable."
"It's not just about the number of towns and cities – although our expanding network means our customers still have access to the most extensive 5G coverage in the UK - it's the quality and availability of your 5G connection that counts.
The latest locations include landmarks such as Brighton Pier, Glasgow’s Bath Street, York Minster, Swansea Bay, Bath's Royal Crescent and Sandbanks Beach.
New towns and cities added to the coverage list include: Aldridge, Alexandria, Aylesbury, Ayr, Barnsley, Biggleswade, Blackburn, Bolton, Brighton. Chester, Colchester, Dundee, Exeter, Grantham, Gravesend, Harrogate, Lincoln, Milton Keynes, Norwich, Paignton, Poole, Portsmouth, Rickmansworth, Runcorn, Southport, Stockton-on-Tees, Stoke-on-Trent, Stratford-upon-Avon, Sunbury-on-Thames, Swansea, Swindon, Widnes, Wigan, Worcester and York.
EE plans to have a UK-wide 5G service (90 percent of the UK landmass) by 2028. To do this it will turn off 3G in 2023 and launch a new 5G core network in the same year.
Like other UK networks EE has been using mid-band (sub 6GHz) wavelengths so far for 5G but in order to reach its goals will be rolling out more low-band 5G spectrum. This was the spectrum that EE was awarded in the early 2021 Ofcom spectrum auction that saw all the networks improve their holding.
The network says that Redditch, Morecambe and Cramlington are the first UK towns that will benefit from this new spectrum coverage.
Having had a lot of Huawei technology in its network, EE said it will cost around £500 million to remove the tech from its network after the UK Government ruling on the issue. EE is planning to remove the gear by 2023, two years later than planned.
The network is using Ericsson and Samsung technology to replace it.
How fast is EE 5G?
Quoting speeds can be a risky business because there are so many variables across the network, locations and devices. UK networks can see peak rates around 1Gbps, but more realistic expectations are around 100-300Mbps. That's faster than most home broadband services offer.
In our first taste of EE 5G, we saw 460Mbps on a OnePlus 7 Pro 5G. Comparing that to a 4G handset tested at the same time, it was 10x faster. But 5G isn't just about pure speed, it's about building a more efficient network - so when you experience slower speeds on 5G it's likely that your 4G phone would be even slower.
- EE's ‘Full Works' plan is an iPhone 5G-ready tariff including Apple Music, TV+ and Arcade - now SIM-only too
Of course, where you are will affect 5G speeds you might get and the networks are brand new - so they are going to be getting more widespread with better performance as time passes.
We've seen speeds hit those highs again, but 100-200Mbps is a lot more common - we've had those kinds of speeds on numerous occasions. And no, that isn't better than peak speeds on 4G, but the latency is always lower.
EE has also now released its first 5G compatible 'MiFi' device called the 5GEE WiFi. It supports Wi-Fi 6. You can get it for £45 a month on a 24-month plan, with 100GB of data for £67.50 per month, or with and 200GB of data for a whopping £90 per month.
You can find out all about the EE 5G deals on offer on EE's website.