As Britain prepares itself for a summer of staycations, EE’s next-generation mobile network is popping up at tourist hotspots and on seasides.
Brighton Pier, York Minster, Swansea Bay and Sandbanks Beach are among 35 new locations served by the UK’s largest 5G network.
“75% of the top 20 towns and cities for domestic tourism now have 5G on EE, to support a better getaway for customers,” Marc Allera, chief executive of EE parent BT’s consumer business, said.
Other landmarks where you’ll be able to access EE’s lightning-fast data include Exeter Cathedral, Norwich Cathedral, Paignton Sands, Swansea Maritime Quarter and Swansea Bay, the V&A Museum in Dundee and York Museum Gardens.
The recent expansion, rolled out last Thursday, takes EE’s 5G network to 160 cities and towns, two years after it launched as the UK’s first next-generation mobile network.
The rollout has been unhampered by the pandemic, which saw conspiracy theorists (baselessly) link 5G to coronavirus and harass engineers. EE has added 89 new locations since last March and expanded coverage in many others.
And while rivals may claim to cover a town if they offer 5G from one cellular tower, EE only updates its 5G map when it delivers connectivity to a place with a minimum population of 10,000, with at least a third of that population able to connect and full coverage of the town or city centre.
EE’s progress is all the more impressive given the small size of 5G-friendly radio spectrum band it holds. While Three holds 140MHz of spectrum across several 5G-suitable bands, including a 100MHz continuous slice seen as necessary to true 5G, EE has had just 40Mhz.
But an auction of more bands held by telecoms regulator Ofcom last month saw EE consulate its holdings. EE parent company BT snapped up 80MHz of spectrum for £452 million, an investment that will help the network deliver faster speeds and more widespread coverage.
However, a recent test-drive of the UK’s 5G networks by Global Wireless Solutions (GWS) found that the emerging next-generation networks aren’t yet living up to their promise. GWS found that 5G signal is so weak in many areas that 5G-enabled devices can only connect to it around 20% of the time.
GWS found that 40% coverage in an area is necessary to achieve baseline speeds of 100Mbps, on average. However, that coverage was attained in just seven of the 32 towns and cities it sampled. Vodafone delivered the coverage in four of those areas, while EE managed it in three.
EE 5G’s 35 newest locations