UK operator EE has added 150 new UK locations to its 5G network and ‘boosted’ a series of Christmas shopping hotspots.

EE has added 150 new locations to its 5G network, which it says expands its coverage beyond speeds dense urban areas where 5G is mostly located.

In England, these lucky new towns include Kettering, Retford, Saltford, Scunthorpe, Carlisle, Barrow-in-Furness, Crewe; in Scotland, Buckhaven, Cowdenbeath, Gorebridge, Saltcoats, Portlethen, Banchory, Ratho; and in Wales, Milford Haven, Pontypridd, Pencoed, Ebbw Vale, Whitland, Merthyr Tydfil, and Pentyrch.

The operator has also ‘upgraded’ 5G coverage in certain busy shopping areas which already have 5G, which they say will help things like contactless payments. These areas include Birmingham, Edinburgh, Nottingham, London Hyde Park, Manchester, Bath, Newcastle, Padstow, Belfast, and Lincoln.

“There is nothing like the sights and smells of a Christmas market,” Greg McCall, Chief Networks Officer, BT Group. “This year, with more people expected to visit some of the nation’s major destinations, ensuring the availability of high capacity, super-fast connectivity is crucial for customers and traders alike. As we continue to invest in and expand our 5G network, we’re thrilled to be powering Christmas market destinations across more of the UK.”

In October it was announced that EE had begun deploying Ericsson’s latest massive MIMO radios, which are supposed to provide some improvements and efficiencies. The new AIR 3268 is apparently ‘the lightest and smallest massive MIMO radio equipment in the industry and is also the most energy efficient radio equipment of this type deployed in Europe.’ over 1,000 of them planned for urban sites, starting with London, though whether this latest expansion represents the first fruit of that radio partnership with Ericsson is unknown.

On a more general note, it is worth asking what 5G boosting actually means, and what the existing level of 5G performance was like in the areas listed, if allowing contactless payments is cited as a benefit of the said boosting. Presumably they are pointing to an expected increase in the amount of people trying to access the network as they hit the shops looking for mince pies and gifts, but still you’d think that’s the very least that was supposed to be delivered by the initial 5G rollouts.

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