INTERVIEW: Marc Allera, head of EE (pictured), predicted initial demand for 5G would be muted, with early adopters setting the tone for the technology before demand begins to accelerate rapidly.
Ahead of a commercial launch in the UK later this year, the CEO of BT’s consumer unit (which includes mobile operator EE) highlighted the price of handsets compatible with the technology as a factor, noting they are “very much at the upper end, particularly the foldable ones”. Due to this, 5G services will be “all about the early adopters at first”.
This group has an important role to play, in particular by “bringing other consumers into the market”.
“They are the people talking to their friends, they are networked individuals,” he told Mobile World Live at MWC19 Barcelona. “It’s important that those early adopters are excited about it. I think there’s enough there in terms of the device range, and certainly in terms of the network range…it’s enough to get us started. It won’t be the majority of what we sell in the first year, but it will accelerate very rapidly from there.”
EE plans to launch 5G in the busiest parts of 16 major UK cities in 2019 and Allera reiterated it is pushing to do so ahead of rivals Vodafone UK, Telefonica’s O2 UK and Hutchison’s 3 UK.
“We have always prided ourselves on being first, that’s at the DNA of the company…we want to be ahead of the pack and we are working with a number of partners to make that happen.”
During the interview, Allera also addressed ongoing security concerns surrounding certain vendors building out networks in the UK. Click here to watch.Subscribe to our daily newsletter Back