The United Kingdom has joined the fray with the launch of its 5G network, the next generation of ultra-fast wireless connections.
EE, the UK’s largest mobile carrier, launched 5G wireless Thursday in select areas of London, Edinburgh, Belfast, Cardiff, Birmingham and Manchester. EE customers in the UK can access the new network using new smartphones from makers including Samsung, OnePlus, LG and Oppo.
5G technology has been touted as a major breakthrough that will allow for better video streaming and more technical advancements such as powering self-driving cars.
In April, the United States and South Korea became the first countries to offer people 5G phones that could access limited 5G networks. Verizon customers were the first to access the US network, using Samsung’s Galaxy 5G.
Although 5G innovation is already underway in parts of the US, UK and South Korea, a network still isn’t widely available to benefit the majority of wireless customers.
The transition from 4G to 5G networks won’t be that widespread until about 2020 because it will involve infrastructure upgrades that cost companies billions of dollars.
EE plans to launch its 5G network across 20 additional cities in the UK by the end of 2020. People will still be able to connect to 4G service in areas where 5G has yet to roll out.