EE Launches new Spectrum into 5G Network

BT’s mobile business, EE, more than doubles 5G spectrum holdings in Ofcom auction

BT’s mobile business, EE, has finalised new 5G spectrum holdings following the conclusion of the second, assignment stage of Ofcom’s auction and will start to launch some of the new spectrum into the 5G network immediately. EE won 80MHz overall of the 700MHz and 3.6GHz bands that were on offer in the auction.

EE secured 40MHz of 3.6GHz spectrum, doubling current holdings. As the launch band for 5G, 3.4-3.8GHz allows for exceptionally high performance and capacity in areas with denser populations and can be accessed by all 5G handsets. EE has already carried out work on a number of sites to allow the new spectrum to launch soon.

EE also secured 20MHz of paired and a further 20MHz of unpaired 700MHz spectrum. 700MHz is new to 5G services in the UK but already used extensively in Europe, and is supported on recent key customer handsets, including the iPhone 12 and Samsung Galaxy S21.

It will support wider and deeper 5G coverage, including indoors, and help deliver better capacity overall. EE will roll out the 20MHz of paired spectrum extensively over the years ahead and begins trials of the spectrum on a small number of new sites this week.

Marc Allera, CEO Consumer Division, BT, said:

“Spectrum is the most vital investment a mobile network can make; the more a network has, the better the experience it can deliver. We’re pleased to have secured significant new capacity for the EE network at an excellent price.

Combined with our existing portfolio, this new acquisition of valuable low and mid frequency spectrum will mean the EE network is set up well for the future, and can continue to provide customers with the best and most extensive 5G network in the UK.”

Overall, BT Group, bidding through their mobile business EE Ltd, invested £452m to secure the new spectrum last month before placing “assignment bids” with Ofcom and taking part in negotiations with other networks to establish the exact in-band position of the newly won capacity.

EE has secured positions within the respective spectrum bands for an additional £23m cost, taking the total investment to £475m, and will launch some new spectrum into the 5G network immediately. EE retains the flexibility to make a future spectrum trade, to obtain full contiguity for the holdings.

BT says the new capacity will help support a growing customer base across BT Group, with EE alone now passing one million active 5G users.

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