EE becomes first UK mobile operator to achieve significant 5G milestone

5G tower in seaside town
(Image credit: EE)

EE has become the first and only UK mobile operator to extend 5G coverage to more than half of the UK’s population.

The milestone comes almost three years after EE launched its 5G network, with the 50% coverage target originally scheduled for 2023.

The achievement is also five years ahead of the government’s Wireless Infrastructure Strategy ambition, which aims to provide the majority of the UK’s population with 5G by 2027.

EE CEO Marc Allera described the 50% milestone as “a huge achievement in [BT Group’s] 5G journey”.

“EE was the first network to launch 5G in the UK and now we’re the first mobile network operator to take the technology to 50% of the UK population. Our ambitions for 5G don’t stop here. We’ll continue to invest in our network to provide our customers with unrivalled connectivity.”

As part of its ongoing network investment, EE has pledged to offer 5G anywhere in the UK by 2028 through its macro network and ‘on demand’ connectivity solutions.

The mobile operator has also announced improved 5G services in 20 of the UK’s popular holiday destinations that are expected to experience high summer footfall. These are as follows:

  • Blackpool
  • Clacton-on-Sea
  • Clitheroe
  • Cowes
  • Eastbourne
  • Exeter
  • Exmouth
  • Falmouth
  • Great Malvern
  • Hastings
  • Inverness
  • Minehead
  • Morecambe
  • Plymouth
  • Pontypridd
  • Poole
  • Ross-on-Wye
  • Salisbury
  • St Austell
  • Tiverton

Commenting on today’s news, Digital Infrastructure minister Julia Lopez said that she is "delighted to see EE has made good progress rolling out 5G to half of the country”.

“The technology, which can be up to 20 times faster than 4G, will help us in our aims to level up our economy and unleash the potential of communities across the UK. We are working alongside industry to boost rural coverage through a £1 billion deal with mobile phone operators and are developing a new strategy to boost further investment in 5G and help operators rapidly expand their networks,” she added.

The latest milestone comes weeks after EE became the first European network to successfully deliver 5G over seven combined LTE and 5G spectrum carriers, including the 3.6GHz 5G channels that were acquired during Ofcom’s 2021 spectrum auction.

Sabina Weston

Having only graduated from City University in 2019, Sabina has already demonstrated her abilities as a keen writer and effective journalist. Currently a content writer for Drapers, Sabina spent a number of years writing for ITPro, specialising in networking and telecommunications, as well as charting the efforts of technology companies to improve their inclusion and diversity strategies, a topic close to her heart.

Sabina has also held a number of editorial roles at Harper's Bazaar, Cube Collective, and HighClouds.