5G mobile network set to launch in Belfast by end of month

Belfast is to become one of six cities across the UK to benefit from the launch of 5G communications network when the new network is switched on by provider EE at the end of the month.

By The Newsroom
Wednesday, 22nd May 2019, 1:34 pm
Belfast City Council CEO Suzanne Wylie, left, with EE store manager at Victoria Square Karen Dundas
Belfast City Council CEO Suzanne Wylie, left, with EE store manager at Victoria Square Karen Dundas

The firm has comfirmed with new 5G plans, a range of six new 5G smartphones and devices. Other 5G launch cities include London, Edinburgh, Cardiff, Birmingham and Manchester.

Consumers and businesses in Belfast can pre-order the new devices, and the firm is also announcing a WiFi and home broadband.

The network is also set to have significant impact for commercial development with several tech firms expressing interest in establishing centres in the city to take advantage of the digital advance.

“Digital connectivity is at the heart of our strategy for the growth of Belfast,” said Belfast City Council CEO Suzanne Wylie.

“5G is key to making our ambitions a reality. It will drive our economy forward and enable Belfast to thrive in the fourth industrial revolution.

“Being one of the first 5G enabled cities in the UK is an exciting prospect for us, and will bring our businesses and citizens the best mobile connectivity in Europe. 5G connectivity will ensure our city remains competitive, indigenous businesses grow and big global brands continue to build their businesses in Belfast and support our ongoing digital advancement.”

Marc Allera, CEO of BT’s Consumer division, said: “This is the start of the UK’s 5G journey and great news for our customers that want and need the best connections. We’ve started with 5G in some of the busiest parts of the UK, the widest range of 5G devices in the UK, and plans that give customers the best mobile connection and great benefits.

“We’re adding 5G to the UK’s number one 4G network to increase reliability, increase speeds, and keep our customers connected where they need it most. 5G will create new experiences with augmented reality, make our customers’ lives easier, and help launch entirely new businesses that we haven’t even imagined. We’re upgrading more than 100 sites to 5G every month from today to connect more places to what 5G can enable.

“Our partnerships with Google and Niantic are just the start of our commitment to work with the most innovative and exciting companies in the world to ensure that EE customers are the first to benefit from the exciting new experiences that 5G will bring.”

EE expects customers in Belfast to experience an increase in speeds of around 100-150Mbps even in the busiest areas. Some customers will break the one gigabit-per-second milestone on their 5G smartphones. The fastest speed possible when EE launched 4G in 2012 was just 50Mbps.

Phase 2 of the programme, from 2022, will introduce the full next generation 5G core network. Higher bandwidth and lower latency will enable a more responsive network, enabling truly immersive mobile augmented reality, real-time health monitoring, and mobile cloud gaming.

The final Phase 3, from 2033, will introduce Ultra-Reliable Low Latency Communications (URLLC) and multi-gigabit-per-second speeds, enabling critical applications such as real-time traffic management of fleets of autonomous vehicles, massive sensor networks with millions of devices measuring air quality across the entire country, and the ‘tactile internet’, where a sense of touch can be added to remote real-time interactions.

These are the areas that made Belfast an enticing prospect for global firms such as Google.