The UK carrier said initial 5G services will be available in London, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Belfast, Birmingham and Manchester

UK carrier EE has announced plans to launch 5G sites in 16 UK cities in 2019. The telco, which is part of BT Group, said 5G services will be initially available in London, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Belfast, Birmingham and Manchester.

EE said that it is currently deploying 5G sites in the busiest parts of these six cities, including Hyde Park in London, Manchester Arena, Belfast City Airport, the Welsh Assembly, Edinburgh Waverly train station and Birmingham’s Bullring.

EE will also be launching 5G in certain areas of Glasgow, Newcastle, Liverpool, Leeds, Hull, Sheffield, Nottingham, Leicester, Coventry and Bristol during next year.

The telco said that the BT Technology team is virtualizing elements of the core network for 5G rollout in 2019, and is building a next generation 5G core for the planned launches next year.

EE said that the first 1,500 sites that EE is upgrading to 5G in 2019 carry 25% of all data across the whole network, but only cover 15% of the UK population.

“EE is upgrading to 5G where it can make the biggest difference to the most people. 5G is built on top of EE’s award winning 4G network – customers’ 5G experience will be dictated by the quality of both 4G and 5G, as well as the underlying fixed network,” the telco said.

EE also said that it is upgrading transmission to 10 Gbps links at each 5G site and has tested the new links at its trial sites in Canary Wharf and across East London. Earlier this month, EE said that nine 5G trial sites are now live across East London. 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, EE said.

The carrier also said that 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.

In addition to the new sites in East London, EE is also currently testing live 5G in Canary Wharf, and new device functionality is being tested in the state-of-the-art Borehamwood test lab.

Earlier this year, U.K. telcos obtained spectrum for the future provision of 5G services. BT-owned EE won 40 megahertz for which it paid £303 million ($395 million). Three secured 20 megahertz of 3.4 GHz spectrum at a cost of £151.3 million. Vodafone won 50 megahertz of spectrum in the 3.4GHz frequency band after paying £378 million, while Telefónica-owned O2 picked up 40 megahertz for £318m.

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