EE will be the first U.K. network to flip the switch on 5G in the region in little over a week’s time. The BT-owned carrier will start the 5G launch party on May 30, but there’s a big name that now won’t be receiving an invite: Huawei.
At an event to celebrate the launch, BT Group CEO Marc Allera addressed the turmoil surrounding the Chinese OEM and confirmed (via The Verge) that the carrier will be putting the sale of new Huawei devices “on pause” for the initial rollout.
The Huawei Mate 20 X 5G — a 5G-enabled version of Huawei’s 2018 phablet — had been expected to be part of the first wave of 5G phones to launch in the U.K..
This is what @MarcAllera, CEO of BT consumer brands (EE, BT and Plusnet) said about @Huawei devices in the light of the recent news about the Chinese brand “we will wait for more information” #5GEE pic.twitter.com/wqYNrVxVVH— Francisco Jeronimo (@fjeronimo) May 22, 2019
To make matters worse, Vodafone has also followed suit for its own upcoming 5G rollout. A Vodafone spokesperson explained that “Huawei’s 5G handset is yet to receive the necessary certifications.”
The move from both U.K. carriers marks another blow in what has been a dire few days for Huawei that all started with the U.S. government declaring a national security emergency and blocking deals with the Chinese giant. Despite a 90-day reprieve, there’s still a very real threat Huawei could lose access to Android and crucial hardware imports from Qualcomm, Intel, and now potentially ARM.
5G finally arrives in the UK, sort of
As for EE’s 5G plans, the first launch cities will be London, Manchester, Birmingham, Edinburgh, Belfast, and Cardiff, though coverage will be restricted to landmark areas for leisure and commerce such as London’s Wembley Stadium and Birmingham’s Bullring.
More than 100 new sites will then be turned on each month, with Bristol, Glasgow, Newcastle, Leicester, Liverpool, Leeds, Hull, Sheffield, Nottingham, and Coventry all getting some amount of outdoor 5G coverage before the end of 2019.
Allera noted that customers can expect speeds of around 150Mbps on average, but will potentially hit up to 1Gbps at quieter times. Pricing starts at a fairly eye-watering 54 pounds per month for the lowest 5G plan with 10GB of data.
For more on the Huawei fallout, be sure to follow our Huawei ban timeline.