BT Group is stepping up to deliver the next generation of digital network infrastructure. We are funding Openreach’s £15bn full fibre broadband build plan to reach 25 million premises by December 2026 and we are continuing to grow our position as the UK’s number one 5G network provider.

The investments we make in these two leading networks over the next decade or so mean we’ll be able to combine them to create the UK’s leading smart converged network, the power of which will deliver economic prosperity for decades to come.

Keeping the UK connected

We’re proud to have launched the UK’s first 5G network back in 2019. Since then, RootMetrics® has rated our EE 5G network as the UK’s Number 1 every year.

But we’re not in the business of standing still. We’re all using more data in this increasingly connected world we live in: think gaming, smart homes, smart working, health services, entertainment, TV streaming services, mobiles, the Internet of Things, security, and on and on. We need to make sure that our network can cope with these ratcheting demands.

And for that, we need to innovate.

Network ambitions

We have two ambitions:

Our smart network will be the first of its kind in the UK

Our ambition is to create one converged, smart network built on our world-leading fixed and mobile networks – going beyond 4G, 5G, Wi-Fi and ultrafast broadband to seamlessly connect our customers wherever they are.

We’re due to complete this new smart network by 2022. It’ll be the first of its kind in the UK and will enable a new era of connectivity for us all. 

For 5G connectivity to be available anywhere in the UK by 2028, racing past the geographic reach of 4G to become the UK’s largest ever digital network, covering more than 90% of the UK’s landmass.

Workmen operating a drone
Workmen operating a drone

How we’re driving 5G


Access to suitable radio frequency spectrum is essential to delivering high quality services. And for this we rely on access to many different spectrum bands. We use frequencies licensed by Ofcom to deliver mobile, fixed and satellite connectivity. Customers also rely on licence-exempt spectrum applications like local Wi-Fi connectivity.

Our newly acquired 5G spectrum plays a crucial role in fulfilling our growth ambitions. We have two bands: 700MHz and 3.4-3.8Ghz, giving us better indoor coverage, better rural coverage, and faster data speeds, enabling on-demand 5G connectivity anywhere.

We also actively contribute to developing national and international spectrum regulation. 


We’re also exploring the potential of sky and space to help us widen, deepen, and strengthen our network coverage:

Skyscape infographic
Skyscape infographic

* HAPS: High Altitude Platform Systems / LEO: Low Earth Orbit


We’re launching our new 5G SA (standalone) core network in 2023, which combines all our digital networks using Network Cloud infrastructure. Machine learning helps to route services through the best available connection and also predicts and resolves issues, promising a huge leap in reliability.

5G SA enhances:

live augmented reality (AR) experiences; mobile gaming; private networks; and immersive learning.

5G SA enables:

connected cars; drone highways; and differentiation through network slicing.

It’s not all about 5G, though

The UK’s number one 4G network is set to get even bigger.

We’re expanding our rural coverage by over 4,500 square miles. The network will reach around 90% of the UK by 2025. And we’re also strengthening our coverage in areas that struggle with capacity problems. Places like train stations, conference centres, event spaces and shopping malls.

Our Universal Service Obligation

We’ve had a Universal Service Obligation since 2003 for the provision of voice services, payphones, and an affordable scheme for low-income customers. We’re the Universal Service Provider for these service across the UK (with the exception of Hull, where KCOM perform the role).

Since 2019 we’ve also been the UK’s Universal Service Provider for broadband (along with KCOM in Hull).

Under Ofcom proposals, we’re entitled to recover some of the additional costs of delivering a universal service from other telecoms providers.

Upgrading the UK’s
fixed line networks

Broadband is the future of all fixed-line telecommunications. Everything in the home or office will run over it from telephones to TVs; light bulbs to computers. The number of connected devices in the average UK household is set to increase dramatically in the coming years and that’s at a time when data consumption is growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of around 40%.

To fuel this growth, the UK needs ultra-high bandwidth, ultrafast and ultra-reliable networks. That’s why BT Group is making a once-in-a-generation investment to upgrade 25 million homes and businesses with the capability to receive full fibre broadband. 

At the same time, we are also working to upgrade our customers from analogue telephones to digital, IP-based voice services that run over broadband. We’re moving all our customers from PSTN to digital voice services. We’ve already started and by the time we’ve finished every phone line in the UK will be digital, routing all phone calls over IP rather than the tradition PSTN. Giving our customers crystal clear voice quality and integrating voice with the rest of their broadband services.  

These are significant programmes that will have a positive impact on virtually all of our customers. They will leave an enduring mark on the face of the UK’s digital infrastructure – and economic lifeblood – for many decades to come.