BT has unveiled plans to offer high performance 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. This long-term vision means BT is building and bonding next-generation fibre and 5G networks simultaneously. BT says the smart infrastructure provides a platform for revolutionary new services for customers and converged technology opportunities for businesses, supporting the UK’s economic recovery and future growth.
Philip Jansen, Chief Executive of BT Group, 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.”
To extend mobile coverage BT’s mobile network, EE, is driving 4G connectivity deeper into rural areas, adding over 4,500 square miles of new signal by 2025, equivalent to more than 1.5 million Wembley pitches. In parallel EE’s 5G network, which was first to launch two years ago, will grow to cover half of the UK population by early 2023, four years ahead of the UK Government’s ambitioni. 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 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 have been announced as the first UK towns that will benefit, with customers able to access the signal from a growing range of 5G handsets.
In addition, BT’s increasing role in the deployment of Neutral Host systems, third party infrastructure that can be used by multiple networks, will support better 4G and 5G coverage in busy environments like airports, stadia and campuses.
To realise the ambition of extending the reach of 5G across the entire UK, BT is developing a wide range of ‘on demand’ coverage solutions, utilising the experience gained in delivering the Emergency Services Network. Portable cells will provide temporary mobile connectivity for customers when they request it, at a lower cost than building traditional cell sites and a fleet of rapid response vehicles will also be expanded and diversified to provide enhanced coverage, resilience or capacity in remote areas. BT is also targeting the greater use of air and space technologies, including drones and Low Earth Orbit satellites, and last month signed an early agreement with OneWeb to drive the technology applications forward.
Together, the plans offer the most comprehensive and versatile mobile network ever delivered in the UK, with permanent or ‘on demand’ solutions allowing customers to find, request and enjoy mobile connectivity when they want, wherever they want.
BT has confirmed the sequence of technology milestones that will drive the continuously improving performance of the 5G network and deliver network convergence. A new 5G core network control system will launch by 2023, built upon BT’s distributed “Network Cloud” infrastructure, combining all digital networks