U.K. carrier EE, part of telecom group BT, has doubled its 5G footprint in the recent fiscal year, with its next-generation offering currently available in 160 towns and cities across the country, BT said in its earnings statement.
BT also said that EE’s “5G-ready customer base” reached 3.2 million at the end of fiscal Q4, ending March 31, up compared with 53,000 at the same point in 2020.
“5G-ready connections stand at more than 3.2 million, and EE’s brand strength has attracted more than 1.6 million active users across our retail businesses. Importantly, we have secured new 5G spectrum at an investment encouraging cost to further extend coverage and underpin future enterprise 5G use cases,” BT’s CEO Philip Jansen said during a conference call with investors.
Last month, EE announced that it had switched on 5G technology in 35 additional cities and towns across the country.
Some of the new cities covered by EE’s 5G network are Blackburn, Bolton, Brighton, Chester, Dundee, Exeter, Harrogate, Milton Keynes, Norwich, Portsmouth, Southport, Stoke-on-Trent, Stratford-upon-Avon, Sunbury-on-Thames, Swansea, Swindon, Wigan, Worcester and York.
The carrier noted that 75% of the top 20 towns and cities for domestic tourism now have 5G on EE, benefiting visitors, residents and businesses and supporting a better holiday this summer.
EE initially launched 5G technology in London, Edinburgh, Belfast, Cardiff, Birmingham and Manchester. Other large cities in which the telco offers 5G coverage includes Bristol, Covently, Hull, Leeds, Leicester, Liverpool, Newcastle, Nottingham, Sheffield and Sunderland.
The telco has said that it was expecting to reach one million active 5G customers by the end of April. London, Birmingham, Manchester and Glasgow are the cities where EE has the highest number of 5G users.
According to independent 5G testing by RootMetrics, EE’s 5G availability is higher than all other networks in the UK’s four capital cities – Belfast, Cardiff, Edinburgh and London.
EE recently secured 2×10 megahertz of paired frequency spectrum in the 700 MHz band at a cost of £280 million ($385.4 million); 20 megahertz of supplementary downlink spectrum in the 700 MHz band at a cost of £4 million; and 40 megahertz in the 3.6-3.8 GHz band for £168 million.
Rival operators Hutchison 3G UK, Telefonica’s O2 and Vodafone also secured 5G spectrum in the recent spectrum auction, in which the U.K. government raised a total of £1.35 billion.
BT also announced that its mobile unit will expand its 4G coverage in more than 500 areas in 2021 to improve rural connectivity across the UK as part of the Shared Rural Network program.