British wireless carrier EE will be starting the United Kingdom's first live 5G trial this fall, having confirmed the test will take place in Silicon Roundabout, a technology district in east London. The experiment will see ten cell sites upgraded with 5G capabilities and officially launch in October. As EE will be modifying its existing 4G LTE infrastructure in order to run the trial, its solution will be based on a non-standalone specification, presumably the 3GPP's Release 15 standard completed last December. A Busan, South Korea-based summit hosted by Samsung last month saw the world's wireless leaders discuss a new 5G configuration but the consortium's Release 16 specification isn't expected to be introduced prior to late 2019.
Five households and another handful of small businesses will be enrolled in the trial, with EE allowing them the opportunity to experience the next generation of mobile networks. No participants have yet been selected, with the network operator planning to pick them through social media over the next four months. While details on the project remain scarce, EE's initial description of the experiment is indicative of either a 5G fixed wireless access service or a quasi-mobile network being planned, with the company stating it will provide its participants with "mobile broadband devices" which are still being finalized in collaboration with its partners. First 5G-compatible smartphones aren't expected to be introduced prior to early 2019, though a number of carriers around the world like AT&T are promising truly mobile solutions thanks to "5G pucks," with EE possibly planning to follow suit.
The test will rely on 3.5GHz spectrum obtained by EE at Ofcom's recent auction, with the network operator promising a gigabit-speed solution. No end date has been attached to the trial that appears to be planned as an ongoing endeavor meant to evolve over time, as new 5G technologies are standardized and ready for implementation. EE remains committed to its medium-term plan of launching a commercial 5G network by the end of 2019 but has yet to provide any other details on the matter. Europe as a whole is widely expected to lose the 5G race to the United States, Australia, and select Asian countries such as South Korea and Japan.