BT to Expand 5G to Entire UK by 2028 Using Drones, Satellites, and Portable Cells, Will End 3G Service by 2023

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The British network carrier BT has today announced that EE will offer 5G connectivity anywhere in the UK by 2028 as the company set out its plans for the future.

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3G services offered by EE, BT Mobile, and Plusnet will be phased out by 2023, by which time the company will have built a new 5G core network. 3G usage has been in steady decline in recent years, now representing less than two percent of all data traffic over the EE network. The legacy 3G spectrum will be used to enhance 5G capacity in the future.

By the mid-2020s, BT will fully integrate fiber, Wi-Fi, and mobile network infrastructure for more secure and reliable connectivity. This will be “the UK’s first fully converged network,” which will allow BT to build next-generation fiber and 5G networks simultaneously.

To extend mobile coverage, EE is expanding 4G connectivity deeper into rural areas, adding over 4,500 square miles of new coverage by 2025. In parallel EE’s 5G network, which launched two years ago, will grow to cover half of the UK population by early 2023, four years ahead of the British Government’s target. 5G is expected to surpass the geographic reach of 4G to become the UK’s largest digital network by 2028, providing a signal to over 90 percent of the UK’s landmass.

To reach its goals, BT will deploy its recently obtained 700MHz 5G spectrum to the majority of EE sites. It will also use Neutral Host systems to support better 4G and 5G coverage in busy environments like airports, stadia, and campuses. Portable cells in a fleet of rapid response vehicles will provide temporary mobile connectivity to customers when they need it, and BT is also intending to use more air and space technologies, including drones and Low Earth Orbit satellites, having signed an early agreement with satellite internet company OneWeb last month.

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