Europe’s 5G Rollout is Indisputably Underway

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Regardless of carrier or country, the 5G sales pitch everyone is familiar with ceaselessly boasts incredible leaps in data speeds. IT Pro recently reported that while faster 5G has been noted elsewhere in the world, the number of U.K. cities with 5G is impressive. “We were particularly pleased to see how consistent 5G speeds were across countries, something that’s been a pain point on 4G,” said IT Pro.  

Two carriers, EE and Vodafone, already have working 5G networks across a handful of cities and areas. During Q3 2019, 29 U.K. cities were tested by Ookla, the developer of Speedtest.net, and all four major countries reported the lowest overall increase in download speeds at a 450 percent growth rate. Scotland and Wales ranked marginally higher at 470 percent and 475 percent respectively, while Northern Ireland (NI) experienced a 618 percent increase in speeds. 

EE, which claims to be the first U.K. company to launch 5G, currently boasts the most impressive overall 5G speeds with download speeds at 205.02 Mbps, according to the account. O2 lagged behind with 159.48 Mbps, followed by Vodafone with 140.15 Mbps. Differences in latency collectively ranged between 21-26 milliseconds and average upload speeds were almost identical. 

According to Ookla, the percentage increase in speeds is consistent with results recorded from “most countries” other than the U.K. “The performance of the technology seems to be more uniform across the U.K. too, with results showing less than 6 Mbps between the fastest and slowest regions (England and NI respectively),” said Ookla. “The ‘impressive’ increase in download speeds hasn’t been replicated in the upload speeds, though. When it comes to uploading data, percentage increases range from 38.5 percent and 110 percent faster – still notable, but with room for improvement.” 

Varying factors come into play with this analysis. NI’s capital, Belfast, is the only city commercially equipped with 5G, so no other sites can be accountable for pulling down the average score. England, by comparison, has 22 5G cities, so 5G speeds are dependent upon a variety of factors including the number of masts and environmental considerations, such as buildings causing signal-blocking.

“5G will continue to expand in 2020 as Ofcom is scheduled to auction additional spectrum for 5G in both the 700 MHz and 3.6-3.8 GHz bands in spring 2020,” said Ookla.

November 27, 2019

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