BT to bring 5G to the entire UK by 2028 — and drones could help

BT hopes to become the first fully converged network

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The British network carrier BT yesterday unveiled ambitions to bring 5G across the entire U.K. by 2028, with further plans to serve more remote areas with drones, satellites and portable cells.

By merging its Wi-Fi, mobile and fiber infrastructures, BT hopes to become the first fully converged network in the United Kingdom.

Yesterday's announcement details what BT's EE mobile network has in store for the future. First, it aims to extend 4G connectivity into more remote areas where coverage is currently poor. To achieve this, BT expects to add over 4,500 square miles of new signal by 2025.

Previously, EE was the first brand to launch 5G all the way back in 2019. Fast-forward to 2021, EE is now on track to provide 5G coverage for half of the U.K. population by 2023, which has already exceeded the U.K. government’s expectations by roughly four years. As reports MacRumors, 5G is expected to surpass the geographic reach of 4G to "become the UK's largest digital network by 2028, providing a signal to over 90 percent of the UK's landmass." Pretty darn impressive stuff.  

5G for all

By the mid-2020s, BT says it will be "the UK's first fully converged network," which will allow BT to build next-generation fiber and 5G networks simultaneously to deploy its recently acquired 700MHz 5G spectrum to the majority of EE sites. BT also expects to phase out its 3G network connections by 2023, saying that 3G usage has been gradually falling and makes up less than 2% of data traffic over the EE network. With 3G retired, it frees up capacity for more 5G support. 

BT hopes to achieve these targets through a mixture of 'on-demand' coverage solutions, including portable cells for temporary mobile connectivity. Additionally, so-called 'rapid response vehicles' will grow to provide enhanced coverage in rural areas, along with greater utilization of space technologies, including Low Earth Orbit satellites and drones, after last month signing an agreement with the satellite internet company OneWeb.

All of this is good news for future picks in the best Android phones and best iPhone lists, as new handsets evermore rely on the hyper-quick connectivity speeds of 5G to bring you the best browsing experiences. Always-on connectivity is something that EE is hot on; it recently launched its 'Stay Connected' campaign to keep you online, even when you may have run out of data at the end of the month. 

Luke Wilson

Luke is a former news writer at T3 who covered all things tech at T3. Disc golf enthusiast, keen jogger, and fond of all things outdoors (when not indoors messing around with gadgets), Luke wrote about a wide-array of subjects for, including Android Auto, WhatsApp, Sky, Virgin Media, Amazon Kindle, Windows 11, Chromebooks, iPhones and much more, too.