EE officially launched the UK’s first-generation 5G mobile network last night, May 29, with a 5G-powered performance by rapper Stormzy on the River Thames.
BT’s EE subsidiary is the first to launch the service, offering its customers enviable download speeds of up to 200Mbps and, for the avid gamer, lower latency.
There’s a caveat to being able to take advantage of the new network, however, as customers will require a compatible handset and need to live in the right place.
At first, the service will only be available in limited areas of Belfast, Birmingham, Cardiff, Edinburgh, London and Manchester.
The lowest-priced deal will set you back £54 a month plus a one-off £170 fee for a 5G handset. But keep in mind that the deal will only buy you a mere 10GB of data, which you’ll likely chew through fairly quickly if you plan on downloading lots of media.
For many people it may make sense to wait it out, especially as rival Vodafone will switch on its 5G service on July 7.
But don’t expect seamless 5G connectivity in these areas straight away, in fact it will likely be patchy sometimes only offering outdoor connectivity and sometimes none at all – so customers will probably default to a slower 4G signal much of the time.
What about Huawei?
Despite looking like the UK was going to give the green light on the use of the Chinese tech giants telecoms equipment, Theresa May’s resignation makes things less clear.
Barring the use of Huawei’s product would prove a major headache for operators and that’s not just for 5G networks, but 4G too.
EE, which has already rolled-out their 5G network, and Vodafone, which plans to switch on its 5G network on July 3, would have to strip out their existing kit.
While mobile operator Three has also said that its 5G roll-out could be delayed by 18 months if the government bans the use of Huawei’s equipment.