BT says EE’s 5G launch imminent, revises fiber targets

U.K. wireless operator EE will launch 5G in the coming months, according to parent company BT. The company updated its 5G plans and its fiber-to-the-premise (FTTP) progress during its Q1 2019 earnings report.


BT said EE is on track to “launch 5G imminently” across 16 cities in the U.K. by the end of 2019. EE had previously announced it would bring 5G to London, Edinburgh, Cardiff, Belfast, Birmingham and Manchester first. It plans to roll out 5G to the remaining 10 cities, including Glasgow, Newcastle, Liverpool, Leeds, Hull, Sheffield, Nottingham, Leicester, Coventry and Bristol, by the end of the year.


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In addition to 5G deployments, BT is also in the midst of a FTTP push across its footprint. BT has revised its projections for fiber deployment. The company hopes to pass 4 million premises by March 2021, up a million from previous targets of 3 million houses passed by then. The operator hopes to have reached 15 million houses passed by the mid-2020s.


“Our aim is to deliver the best converged network and be the leader in fixed ultrafast and mobile 5G networks,” Philip Jansen, newly appointed CEO of BT, said in a statement. Jansen, a former executive at U.S.-based Worldpay, was appointed CEO of BT in October 2018, and assumed his position in February, taking over for Gavin Patterson.


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The company has struggled in recent years amid increasing competition in the U.K. wireline market and a $683 million fraud scandal. Overall, BT’s year-over-year revenue for Q1 2019 slipped 1%, while profit was up 2%.


“We need to invest to stay ahead in our fixed, mobile and core networks, and we need to invest to overhaul our business to ensure that we are using the latest systems and technology to improve our efficiency and become more agile,” Jansen said. “While we are really well positioned in a very challenging and competitive U.K. market, we have a lot of work to do to ensure we remain successful.”