Business

5G to launch in Belfast next week as part of initial UK rollout

Pictured at the announcement of the rollout of 5G to Belfast next week are: Suzanne Wylie, chief executive of Belfast City Council; and Karen Dundas, EE Victoria Square store manager
Gareth McKeown

BELFAST is to become one of the first cities in the UK to benefit from 5G technology next week.

BT-owned telecoms giant EE has named Belfast as one of six cities to launch its new high-speed mobile network, alongside; London, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Birmingham and Manchester.

More UK locations are to due to follow before the end of the year and into 2020, according to EE.

The Belfast switch on will take place on May 30, with 5G mobile plans available to pre-order from Wednesday.

Customers in Belfast can expect to experience an increase in speeds of around 100-150Mbps even in the busiest areas, while some could even break the one gigabit-per-second milestone on their smartphones

EE is the first mobile phone network to introduce 5G technology in the UK, with rival O2 expected to follow suit later this year. In February the network named Belfast as one of four cities to benefit from the initial rollout along with; London, Cardiff and Edinburgh.

Marc Allera, CEO of BT's consumer division hailed the introduction of the 5G network as great news for customers.

"We're adding 5G to the UK's number one 4G network to increase reliability, increase speeds, and keep our customers connected where they need it most," he said.

"5G will create new experiences with augmented reality, make our customers' lives easier, and help launch entirely new businesses that we haven't even imagined. We're upgrading more than 100 sites to 5G every month from today to connect more places to what 5G can enable."

Suzanne Wylie, CEO of Belfast Council, believes 5G can help drive economic growth in the city.

"Being one of the first 5G enabled cities in the UK is an exciting prospect for us, and will bring our businesses and citizens the best mobile connectivity in Europe. 5G connectivity will ensure our city remains competitive, indigenous businesses grow and big global brands continue to build their businesses in Belfast and support our ongoing digital advancement," she said.

Research published just last month claimed the introduction of a 5G mobile network could generate almost £300 million a year for the north's economy.

The Barclays report stated that an accelerated rollout of 5G and an enhanced uptake amongst UK businesses and consumers would supercharge the Northern Ireland 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 according to the figures, while even a slower rollout and limited use would still deliver around £141m of added revenue.

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.

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