Companies developing 5G in the UK

5G has now arrived in the UK. In May, EE became the first company in the country to switch on commercial 5G, with rivals Vodafone and EE launching their own networks in the months that followed.

Deloitte predicts that UK 5G smartphone shipments will total about 50,000 in 2019, which could jump up to 3 million in 2020. Research by Barclays suggests that the technology could add £15.7 billion to the UK economy every year by 2025.

Here are the UK's top network providers are developing their 5G networks.

Read next: The Complete Guide to 5G

Three UK
iStock

Three UK

Three launched its 5G network in August 2019, two months after Vodafone and three months after EE, but unlike those rivals, Three's network is available only in London via home broadband. The company plans to roll out the service to a total of 25 UK cities by the end of the year.

The London 5G launch follows Three's recent unveiling of the 'world's first' cloud core network, which it developed with Nokia to provide 5G customers with scalability and capacity at speed.

Read more: Three UK launches 5G-ready cloud core network in time for 5G rollout

Three has also been working to improve its networks in major cities like London, Cardiff, Glasgow and Birmingham, which the company claims will be twice as fast as any other network operators and offer a more reliable connection and experience for customers.

O2
Getty Images

O2

O2 has revealed plans to launch a new 'smart ambulance' at Millbrook Proving Ground as part of a trial to revolutionise patient diagnosis, transport and treatment process.

The trial will be tested at the proving ground vehicle testing facility in Bedford, which will enable O2 to develop and test the new system before it is distributed on the public network.

O2 has announced plans to switch on its 5G mobile network in October 2019. It is expected to launch in six UK cities Belfast, Cardiff, Edinburgh, London, Slough and Leeds.

The network provider will then rollout its network to 20 additional towns and cities by summer 2020. According to O2, it has decided to roll out 5G where customers will benefit from it the most, with emphasis on UK cities with stretched capacity.

"As we switch on our network across the country, our intelligence-led roll-out prioritises the key areas in towns and cities first - the places where our customers need, and will use, 5G the most. We’re also giving our customers maximum flexibility with our industry-leading custom plans, letting people adopt 5G at a time that’s right for them," Mark Evans, CEO at Telefonica UK said in a press release.

The network will improve capacity and reliability in key UK locations such as train stations, business and entertainment sites such as The O2 and Twickenham Stadium, whilst offering super-fast speeds during peak periods, O2 claims.

In addition, O2 also confirmed that its new business division, O2 Business, will launch on 1 August, 2019 bringing together all product development within IoT, data and 5G to support business customers and solve business problems.

Some examples include Northumbrian Water and Network Rail, which are expected to receive support from the network provider following the 5G rollout.

The company has also reached an agreement with Vodafone to share 5G active equipment, such as radio antennas, on joint network sites across the UK. The deal will speed up 5G availability to customers of both networks, lower the cost of rollout and reduce the environmental impact. Vodafone and O2 have also agreed to greater 5G network autonomy on approximately 2,700 sites in 23 of the UK’s larger cities, representing just over 16 percent of combined mast sites.

Telco analyst Paolo Pescatore said the agreement was a natural extension to the existing partnership between the companies.

“It makes sense as all providers are keen to accelerate the rollout of 5G networks. Far more effective to partner to solely roll out a new generation mobile network,” he said.

“Telcos needs to be wary and smarter with their network investment. Bottom line, the business model for 5G is unproven so it will be extremely challenging for telcos to recoup the huge investment in the short to medium term.”

Vodafone
© Vodafone

Vodafone

Vodafone officially switched on its 5G network in seven UK cities on 4 July 2019. Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Glasgow, Manchester, Liverpool and London were chosen as the launch site, with 12 more cities to follow by the end of the year.

The network provider also now offers customers Vodafone Unlimited, with unlimited 5G data plans for consumer and business customers.

It has boosted its 5G development through a range of partnerships. They include one with O2 to share 5G active equipment, such as radio antennas, on joint network sites, and another with Qualcomm to run tests of 5G smartphones using the Qualcomm Snapdragon X50 5G modem.

The network has also confirmed in a press release that it will rely on equipment from Huawei and other providers, such as the Huawei Mate X (5G) and the 5G Gigacube home router which will launch in summer 2019.

Vodafone has logged a number of firsts in 5G. development. In 2017, the network provider became the first to test 5G in the UK, using a prototype device in a 3.5 GHz spectrum field located in Central London. The next year, it became the first commercial mobile network to carry 5G traffic across cities.

Ericsson
© Ericsson

Ericsson

Ericsson has unveiled numerous enhancements to its 5G platform as it hopes to deploy 5G technology ahead of its competitors.

In February 2019 it launched a dual-mode 5G cloud core solution to provide the required access for 5G use capabilities such as network slicing and edge computing.

Ericsson also plans to further develop its microwave portfolio to prepare for 5G rollouts in urban areas. It will also add a new MINI-LINK 6200 family of 5G-ready long haul solution of up to 10Gbps capacities.

Alongside this, it will launch nine new dual-band, triple band and high-performance Massive MIMO radios to add radio capacity for service providers.

Ericsson is also further developing its partnership with Vodafone UK and Qualcomm to conduct 5G tests using its radio equipment.

"We're making headway on mobile devices as an integral part of the 5G ecosystem. Ericsson continues to drive the commercial readiness of 5G by future-proofing this ecosystem. Together with Qualcomm, we continue to advance the testing of 5G NR networks with mobile devices and support Vodafone in deploying 5G across the UK," said Thomas Noren, head of 5G commercialisation at Ericsson.

Ericsson further displayed the capabilities of its core 5G technology as it supported Vodafone’s 5G launch in London’s Sky Garden on July 3, 2019, where it enabled 5G coverage of the demo floor to achieve speeds of up to 10x faster than 4G.

"We have a history of working in close partnership with Vodafone and we have done so again in 5G with fast, efficient and customer-focused delivery of Ericsson Radio System 5G technology. Our unique spectrum sharing abilities will also enable Vodafone to extend the scope of 5G in its network,” Arun Bansal, president and head of Europe and Latin America at Ericsson said in a statement.

Read next: Ericsson claims it is '5G-ready' with newly expanded network platform

EE
© EE

EE

Ericsson has unveiled numerous enhancements to its 5G platform as it hopes to deploy 5G technology ahead of its competitors.

In February 2019 it launched a dual-mode 5G cloud core solution to provide the required access for 5G use capabilities such as network slicing and edge computing.

Ericsson also plans to further develop its microwave portfolio to prepare for 5G rollouts in urban areas. It will also add a new MINI-LINK 6200 family of 5G-ready long haul solution of up to 10Gbps capacities.

Alongside this, it will launch nine new dual-band, triple band and high-performance Massive MIMO radios to add radio capacity for service providers.

Ericsson is also further developing its partnership with Vodafone UK and Qualcomm to conduct 5G tests using its radio equipment.

"We're making headway on mobile devices as an integral part of the 5G ecosystem. Ericsson continues to drive the commercial readiness of 5G by future-proofing this ecosystem. Together with Qualcomm, we continue to advance the testing of 5G NR networks with mobile devices and support Vodafone in deploying 5G across the UK," said Thomas Noren, head of 5G commercialisation at Ericsson.

Ericsson further displayed the capabilities of its core 5G technology as it supported Vodafone’s 5G launch in London’s Sky Garden on July 3, 2019, where it enabled 5G coverage of the demo floor to achieve speeds of up to 10x faster than 4G.

"We have a history of working in close partnership with Vodafone and we have done so again in 5G with fast, efficient and customer-focused delivery of Ericsson Radio System 5G technology. Our unique spectrum sharing abilities will also enable Vodafone to extend the scope of 5G in its network,” Arun Bansal, president and head of Europe and Latin America at Ericsson said in a statement.

Read next: Ericsson claims it is '5G-ready' with newly expanded network platform

VMware
iStock

VMware

VMware has announced that its 5G-Ready cloud platform is now live in 15 countries and is powering Vodafone networks.

VMware, which is Vodafone's primary strategic partner for cloud infrastructure, will continually provide cloud infrastructure across various locations as Vodafone journeys to expand its footprint with 5G roll-outs.

It has also expanded its partnership with AT&T, providing its SD-WAN by VeloCloud 5G service for high-speed 5G network connectivity.

Cisco
iStock

Cisco

Cisco was granted £4.3 million by the UK government to create a rural 5G testbed system for network trials in 2018.

The 5G RuralFirst project, led by Cisco, includes 32 organisations that will focus on testing innovative approaches and business models to ensure 5G connectivity is accessible in urban areas.

Cisco has since announced support to service providers. At MWC 2019, the company announced its sustainable wireless connectivity with Google Station, to showcase the support for network providers in different locations.

It also showcased a number of use cases for connected cars, smart communities and Wi-Fi 6, which is a newly improved network that is built similarly to 5G. Already, over 40 service providers are actively trialing Cisco 5G Now solutions.

Cisco has also confirmed that the BBC will launch live radio broadcasts over 5G mobile networks as part of the 5G RuralFirst project. The trial will run for six weeks in Stronsay, Orkney and will expand to other locations later.

"5G RuralFirst aims to identify practical use cases of how enhanced connectivity will benefit businesses and communities in rural areas across the country. It’s about building a business case for 5G roll outs beyond urban areas and demonstrating the value of investing in the digital infrastructure serving rural businesses and communities for the benefit of the entire country," Nick Chrissos, Director of innovation, Europe at Cisco said in a statement.

NTT DATA
iStock

NTT DATA

NTT DATA has announced the launch of its AW3D Telecom for 5G, an advanced 3D digital map with high-quality satellite imagery for 5G networks.

The technology is available immediately and is expected to be used by network providers and IoT companies around the world. Deployments will begin in Japan, South Korea, UK and Australia in 2019 following the expected roll-out of 5G in these countries.

Already, NTT DATA has signed a strategic R&D framework agreement with Orange. The agreement extends up to 2022 and will cover several areas including 5G, IoT and AI.

"Orange is one of the most innovative and important players to cooperate closely in various ways to progress AI, IoT and 5G. With this agreement, we will be able to enhance our capabilities and accelerate digital transformation in various industries, cities, sports and international events in worldwide," Jun Sawada, CEO at NTT Group said in a statement.

The AW3D technology will support 5G planning, with views of detailed objects such as building structures and trees on streets to build advanced datasets.

BT
Getty Images

BT

British Telecom (BT) has also taken action to launch 5G in the UK, with plans to begin 5G trials in partnership with Nokia.

The proof of concept project began in Bristol in March 2018 with a research trial with the University of Bristol. According to reports, BT is expected to provide the spectrum and 5G network solutions while Nokia provides radio access points.

BT confirmed at the start of 2018 that it will use Nokia’s ReefShark chipset to ease the roll-out process, as well as the cost.

BT has also partnered with Huawei for a wider research project, including network architecture and IoT applications.

IBM
iStock

IBM

IBM and Vodafone Business have unveiled plans to launch a new business venture that will help European companies boost their digital capabilities.

With a particular focus on next-generation technologies like 5G, AI and Software Defined Networking (SDN), the venture is expected to provide all clients with the technologies required to integrate multiple clouds, enabling Vodafone customers to access IBM's cloud services.

The announcement comes after researchers at CCS Insight predicted that Europe will fall behind the US and China in the 5G rollout. The research firm estimates that Europe will only capture nine percent of 5G subscribers by 2023.

This venture will bring Vodafone’s expertise in IoT, 5G and edge computing, together with IBM's multicloud and security capabilities.

"Vodafone has successfully established its cloud business to help our customers succeed in a digital world. This strategic venture with IBM allows us to focus on our strengths in fixed and mobile technologies, whilst leveraging IBM's expertise in multicloud, AI and services," Nick Read, Vodafone CEO said in a press release.

The venture, which will become operational in the first half of 2019, is expected to act like a startup, with fast response to the growing market using new digital solutions and services.

Intel
© Intel

Intel

In 2018, Intel announced plans to collaborate with PC manufacturers to deliver its latest 5G modem to laptops.

The companies include Dell, HP, Lenovo and Microsoft which will deliver 5G-connected laptops powered by Intel’s XMM 8000 series modem in 2019.

Copyright © 2019 IDG Communications, Inc.