BT has unveiled plans to build a fully converged mobile and fixed-line network capable of delivering 5G speeds across the entire UK by 2028.
To deliver the 5G ambition, the firm will use the 700MHz spectrum it recently secured in Ofcom’s recent auction to boost the strength of indoor and outdoor signals. Last month BT signed a deal to explore how OneWeb’s Low Earth Orbit satellite network could plug gaps in coverage and today confirmed that air and space technologies, including drones and LEO, will also be used to connect customers.
The firm will also offer a range of ‘on demand’ solutions, including portable cells to deliver temporary connectivity, which it says can be deployed “at a lower cost than building traditional cell sites”, as well as expanding its fleet of rapid response vehicles to provide “enhanced coverage, resilience or capacity in remote areas.”
The plans will see 3G services retired and the spectrum used to enhance 5G capacity in the future. BT says the use of 3G has been in steady decline in recent years and now accounts for less than 2% of traffic over the EE network. EE, BT Mobile and Plusnet customers will be “phased off” the technology by 2023.
Philip Jansen, Chief Executive of BT Group, said: “Over the past 18 months we’ve helped the UK to meet the demands of a pandemic. We must now look ahead to deliver the strongest foundations to drive future growth.
“We’re making a uniquely ambitious, long-term commitment to drive high performance 5G further and faster, and to integrate it at the core with our fibre network for a seamless customer experience. Openreach was first to fibre, EE was first to 5G and together BT will be first to a fully converged future.”