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BT group unveils mobile and convergence plans, aims to offer 5G to entirety of UK

Saf Malik
July 14, 2021

Network will offer 5G anywhere in the UK by 2028

BT has today unveiled plans to offer 5G solutions across the entire UK and to fuse its leading mobile, Wi-Fi and fibre infrastructures to realise the potential of the UK’s first fully converged network. 

BT is building and bonding next-generation fibre and 5G networks simultaneously. 

The infrastructure provides a platform for new services and converged technology opportunities for business according to the network operator.

Extending mobile coverage

To extend mobile coverage, EE is driving 4G connectivity deeper into rural areas, adding over 4,500 square miles of new signal by 2025. 

EE’s 5G network will grow to cover half the UK population by early 2023, four years ahead of the UK government’s ambition. 

Utilising the expanded 4G infrastructure, 5G will pass the geographic reach of 4G to become the UK’s largest digital network by 2028, providing signal to over 90 per cent of the UK landmass. To reach this benchmark new 700MHz 5G spectrum, recently secured in Ofcom’s auction, will be deployed across the majority of EE sites, offering stronger indoor and wider rural coverage

Redditch, Morecambe and Cramlington are the first UK towns that will benefit.

Tech overhaul

A new 5G core network system will launch by 2023, built upon BT’s distributed “Network Cloud” infrastructure. 

To demonstrate the transformative benefits of 5G, BT is carrying out a range of customer showcases of the technology including standalone and edge compute deployments from this summer. 

3G services will also be retired by 2023. 3G usage has been in steady decline, now representing less than 2 per cent of data traffic over the EE network, and the spectrum will be used to enhance 5G capacity in the future.

BT Group chief executive Philip Jansen said: “Over the past 18 months we’ve helped the UK to meet the demands of a pandemic. We must now look ahead to deliver the strongest foundations to drive future growth.

“We’re making a uniquely ambitious, long-term commitment to drive high performance 5G further and faster, and to integrate it at the core with our fibre network for a seamless customer experience. Openreach was first to fibre, EE was first to 5G and together BT will be first to a fully converged future.”

CCS Insight director of network infrastructure Richard Webb added: “BT has set out a comprehensive vision for its network and is evidence of joined-up thinking across its businesses. It establishes some aggressive targets for fundamentals such as network coverage on both the mobile and fixed-line network, as well as a roadmap towards yet-to-be-defined service areas.”

“The extended mobile coverage and enhanced capacity will be good news for consumers, and the option for on-demand connectivity is a smart way of allocating resources on a more ad-hoc basis in line with demand.”

“The 5G Standalone roll-out is also exciting as this gets to the more advanced capabilities of the network from which new user experiences can be created—it will potentially be a platform for things such as virtual reality/augmented reality services as just one example.”

“Ultimately, 5G is at the heart of this vision, as part of an ecosystem of technologies including fiber, WiFi and satellite, but also the ‘3 As’ of automation, AI and analytics, plus machine learning and edge computing, and software-defined cloud networking—collectively, a robust arsenal of capabilities to power future use cases.”

“And whilst the focus is very much on the network and its flexibility, this also shows something of BT’s strategy for its own transformation into an enhanced connectivity, IT and digital services provider through the 2020s.”


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