Major internet service provider BT intends to accelerate the UK’s slowly rising tide of 5G services.
To accomplish this, the firm announced the adoption of US-based Oracle’s Communications Cloud Native Converged Policy Management, a “unified policy framework for 5G and 4G” which “helps operators manage their 4G and 5G network policies in an intuitive and consistent manner, while enabling seamless interworking and migration between 4G and 5G”.
This framework will be implemented within BT’s EE network. The announcement comes as part of BT’s plan to reach 50% 5G availability by 2023 and 100% availability by 2028.
This plan also includes BT’s removal of Chinese telecom Huawei from its 4G infrastructure by government mandate after a series of reports in 2012 and 2013 revealed major security issues that came with allowing Huawei access to critical communications infrastructure.
“BT Group, and EE in particular, have a long-standing, successful track record with Oracle,” says Howard Watson, Chief Technology Officer for BT.
This is not the first time Oracle’s name has come up within UK circles in recent news. DNA startup Oxford Nanopore Technologies recently announced its own adoption of the Oracle Cloud Infrastructure.
It also released an update of its Java programming language with Java 17, the first major update in three years, which will almost certainly have an effect on many businesses around the world.
BT has frequently found itself in the news recently. On the same day of the Oracle announcement, it raised concerns about the growing market presence of its competitor Cellnex. BT gave a response to the Competition and Markets Authority’s investigation into Cellnex acquiring all of CK Hutchison’s UK telecoms towers.
On 17 September, the company revealed its Street Hub 2.0 project in an attempt to provide free gigabit WiFi in the London boroughs of Kensington and Chelsea. These physical kiosks will be scattered throughout the boroughs, with the first one being placed in Notting Hill Gate.
On 16 September, it announced its plan to build a £1.7 million engineer training centre in Wales. While a day before that, BT held a demonstration of its 5G AR technology at Cardiff Arms Park Stadium.
Adoption of 5G in the UK has had a slow start. According to Ookla in their Q1-Q2 2021 summary of 5G around the world, 5G has reached 10.2% availability here, sixth place among the 11 countries analysed.
However, the same report mentioned 5G has helped speed up the UK’s mobile download speeds, going from 23.60 Mbps in 2020 to 29.96 Mbps in 2021, a growth of nearly 27%.
Of the four 5G providers in the UK (EE, Vodafone, Three and O2), BT’s EE is the most accessible with 17.9% availability.
However, it also has the slowest download speeds of the four with 151.03 Mbps compared to O2’s 155.54 Mbps, Vodafone’s 159.49 Mbps, and Three’s 231.07 Mbps. Whether the use of Oracle’s services will help EE climb those rankings remains to be seen.