The supposedly most progressive country in Europe is Great Britain when it comes to 5G – at least for the time being. Focusing on this continent only, the UK is miles ahead on 5G trials with Vodafone and BT at the front in a neck-and-neck race. EE Limited – part of the BT Group – announced on October 9th the going live of the supposedly first 5G trial in Canary Wharf in London. Only 17 days later Vodafone released a press statement saying that “Vodafone today became the first company in the UK to carry full 5G over a commercial network” in Salford.
Besides the fact that both telecommunications companies claim to be the leading forerunners of the 5G trials, it is in fact a major milestone in establishing 5G networks. The trials use parts of existing 4G networks and differ in details but mainly in the size of their testing-locations.
Will the UK have much of Europe beat?
Ultimately there is a lot happening in the UK. BT and EE, whose 4G networks reach more than 95% of the UK population, set the goal of launching 5G by the end of 2019. As was already the case with the trials, Vodafone will launch the new generation of cellular mobile communications somewhat delayed – 5G will not be offered commercially until early 2020. Both have many more trials planned in the near future. Interestingly, Vodafone is more focusing on rural areas, while BT is testing 5G in other parts of London and other cities.
Looking at France, for example, Arcep wants to launch 5G in at least one major city by 2020 – a moderate target compared to the plans of the providers in England. In addition, a study carried out by the research firm Xerfi does not forecast a functioning 5G network until 2025 in France. It seems like the UK will have much of Europe beat for a while.