Mobile operator EE has said it will activate the UK’s first live 5G trial network in London’s Tech City in October.
Tech City used to go by the somewhat embarrassing name of Silicon Roundabout, so you can see why they rebranded it. It’s a bit of central London near the Old Street roundabout that has been used as evidence of how into technology the UK is for years. The original name indicates the desire to position it as a rival to Silicon Valley in the US and the rebrand suggest that ambition may have been scaled down somewhat.
Nonetheless it remains as good a place as any in the UK for a spot of technology virtue-signalling, which is clearly not lost on EE. The MNO will give good 5G at ten sites in Tech City at some time in October, and will provide ten EE customers with prototype 5G devices so they can be the first to live the dream. Those lucky few will be recruited over social media in the intervening months.
“This live trial is a big step forward in making the benefits of 5G a reality for our customers, and in making sure that the UK is at the front of the pack for 5G technology,” said EE boss Marc Allera. “We’re focusing our resource and experience across EE and BT to ensure that we continue to lead the UK market with a mobile network that keeps giving our customers the best speeds and the best coverage. 5G is a fundamental part of our work to build a converged, smart network that keeps our customers connected to the things that matter most.”
Politicians are never far behind when UK firsts are imminent. “We want the UK to be a global leader in 5G as part of our ambition to create a world-leading digital economy that works for everyone,” said Minister for Digital, Margot James. “Together with the government’s own test beds and trials programme, industry initiatives like this will help deliver the benefits of this new revolutionary technology to businesses and consumers across the UK.”
Now all that’s left is for everyone to twiddle their thumbs until the big day. To be fair it’s nice to see the UK getting on with 5G, albeit in a very limited, symbolic way, and this will hopefully prompt EE’s competitors to make similar moves. They might even rebrand Tech City to 5G Collection Of Buildings or something like that.