Vodafone is to switch on its 5G network for both consumers and business customers in seven cities across the UK on 3 July 2019. It will also offer 5G roaming in Germany, Italy and Spain over the summer.
Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Glasgow, Manchester, Liverpool and London will be among the first cities in the world to receive 5G – the new super-fast, highly responsive mobile technology.
Birkenhead, Blackpool, Bournemouth, Guildford, Newbury, Portsmouth, Plymouth, Reading, Southampton, Stoke-on-Trent, Warrington and Wolverhampton will also follow later this year.
Vodafone will price 5G the same as 4G for both consumers and business customers. A choice of 5G smartphones will be available to buy online or in Vodafone stores over the summer with the first models on sale next week.
Vodafone will also offer a 5G router for use in the home and office to give those customers without a fixed line connection access to high speed broadband.
New 5G compatible handsets which will be available ahead of switch-on include the following:
Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 5G smartphone – initially available exclusively from Vodafone online and in store from 23 May 2019
Samsung S10 5G – available for pre-order later this month
Huawei Mate 20 X (5G) – available for pre-order later this month
Huawei Mate X (5G) – available for pre-order later this month.
5G Gigacube – 5G home router to launch this summer.
The new price plans will be unveiled next week to coincide with the availability of the first handset. Handsets can initially be used over 4G, and will be able to use 5G when the network is switched on and all manufacturer software updates are completed.
Says Vodafone UK CEO Nick Jeffery:
“We started our 5G journey more than three years ago. We led the way in setting 5G standards to ensure phones and networks work well together. We upgraded our masts to be able to take 5G without disruption. And we were the first UK company to test 5G over our all-fibre core fixed and mobile network.”
In addition to rolling out 5G technology to consumers, Vodafone is also creating digital innovation and incubator centres across the UK. This includes a technology centre at MediaCity, Salford, Greater Manchester, as well as plans for a major new 5G facility at the Ricoh Arena – home of Wasps rugby and netball clubs.
Under the new sponsorship and technology deal with Wasps, Vodafone will equip the rugby stadium and netball centre with the latest 5G and Internet of Things (IoT) technology. The venues will be open to businesses and start-ups.
Commenting on the announcement, Ernest Doku, mobiles expert at uSwitch.com, said:
“Vodafone’s 5G go live date of July 3 will undoubtedly cause excitement within the telecoms industry as it appears to have won the race to launch the new technology in the UK.
“Faster speeds and better connectivity are always real draws for smartphone users and there is little doubt that 5G is a significant step forward for the telecoms industry.
“The reassuring factor, for now at least, is that 5G will cost the same as existing 4G tariffs. It would be surprising, however, if this were to continue to last, given the high expense of rolling out this new infrastructure.”
“There are also some concerns. With only those in major cities – seven initially, rising to 19 by the end of the year – set to benefit from the improved services, the 5G roll out looks likely to worsen the country’s digital divide.
“While 5G’s arrival marks a significant step in mobile technology’s evolution, if people fail to get on board, or are at risk of being left behind, it could actually serve to worsen the industry’s existing issues of inequality.”
Offering speeds over 5G up to ten times faster than 4G, Vodafone has already shown customers at busy airports and railway stations that they can download TV box sets or movies in a matter of seconds before they embark on their journey. 5G will also ensure faster data speeds for customers in congested areas, such as busy shopping centres, sporting events or music concerts.