EE, the leading telecommunications operator in the U.K., is aiming to roll out a 5G network in the country by 2022.

EE revealed its plan while the company is still in the middle of rolling out its 4G network, which already has almost 3 million customers signed up to the service. 

"When we talk about 5G, we're talking about a network that may be introduced in about a decade," said Andy Sutton, principal network architect of EE, speaking at the Royal Institution of London.

"The standards will be ready by about 2020, and maybe we'll see some of the Asian operators go a little bit sooner as is generally the norm." 

A few Asian countries have already begun testing 5G networks. In Japan, NTT DoCoMo is developing networks with speeds of up to 10Gbps in select cities, and in South Korea, Samsung is also reported to be testing developments of their own.

EE is a member of the 5G Innovation Centre at the University of Surrey, where it plays a huge role in new research for developing 5G networks that can deliver data transfer speeds of up to 100Gbps.

As per Sutton, 5G networks will be able to deliver data capacities of between 1,000 to 5,000 times more than what 3G and 4G networks are capable of. However, the goal is not a fixed number for data capacity, but rather to make the users feel that they have "infinite capacity," as a 5G network would ensure that there is enough data capacity for any open application that requires it. EE expects to manage 12 times more data traffic than what its networks support today, and a 5G network will allow the company to support the expected massive increases in data traffic.

In an interview with Telegraph, Sutton said that developments for 5G networks will also require changes to how infrastructure is built. Radio relays can be inserted into building bricks and communications infrastructure can be integrated into lampposts. 

EE's proposed 5G network will be supported by technology coming from several telecommunications equipment companies such as Huawei and Ericsson.

Huawei, which is already a crucial networking partner for EE, has vowed support to the European Union's £373 million Horizon 2020 program, which looks to make sure that Europe is not left behind in developments for 5G networks.

"There may not be a 6G if we get 5G right. We may change the way we evolve networks from that major generational shift to a more a subtle evolution of capacity and capability," Sutton concluded.

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