Business

EE will launch 5G network in Belfast at the end of May

The introduction of a 5G mobile network could generate an additional £283 million a year for the north's economy

EE will launch its 5G network in Belfast on May 30.

The BT-owned telecoms giant will be the first operator in the UK to launch the new, high-speed mobile network.

EE said it will initially launch in six cities: London, Cardiff, Belfast, Edinburgh, Birmingham and Manchester, with more locations to follow before the end of the year and into 2020.

5G technology is the next generation of mobile network and is expected to offer internet speeds several times that of current generation 4G.

EE also announced its new 5G mobile plans would be available to pre-order from Wednesday, ahead of the launch next week.

The introduction of a 5G mobile network could generate an additional £283 million a year for the north's economy, according to a report.

New research from Barclays highlights the transformational impact 5G technology could have in Northern Ireland if implemented.

The report states that an accelerated rollout of 5G and an enhanced uptake amongst UK businesses and consumers would supercharge the north's economy by up to £283m per year by 2025.

The expected pace of development of 5G in Northern Ireland would add an estimated £229m annually in six years, while even a slower rollout and limited use would still deliver around £141m of added revenue.

Across the UK the benefits of 5G could produce multi-billion pound dividends, according to the research.

In the optimistic scenario, business areas such as distribution (£3.6bn), manufacturing (£2bn), professional services (£1.1bn) and business services (£1bn) would see the greatest direct benefit from the 5G technology.

Despite the vast economic potential of 5G only a third of businesses in the north know how they can benefit from it, while just one in five are actively considering how they will harness the new technology.

O2 has previously named the city as one of the first four to receive 5G coverage in the UK.

Adrian Doran, head of corporate banking at Barclays Northern Ireland believes 5G offers a "huge opportunity".

"We are seeing massive potential for business growth, which ultimately delivers a positive knock-on effect for the whole region," he said.

"It is really encouraging to see that Belfast has been hand-picked as one of the first UK cities to benefit from the roll-out of BT’s EE 5G network later this year, however our research indicates that businesses do not yet clearly understand how this could benefit them in the long-run.

“Some of the key sectors investigated: manufacturing, professional services and business services are high growth sectors in Northern Ireland so it’s easy to see the potential benefits 5G could bring to our local economy."

“To ensure Northern Ireland can realise the full potential of an accelerated rollout, the Government, mobile operators and other corporate partners – including financial institutions – have a job to do to raise awareness amongst businesses so they can harness the economic benefits of 5G, " Mr Doran added.

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