Vodafone to launch 5G in UK cities this summer

The carrier will also launch compatible phones and a router.
14 May 2019

Vodafone will be the first carrier to offer 5G. Source: Shutterstock

Vodafone will switch on its 5G network in July this year in seven cities across the UK, providing consumers and business customers high-speed data connectivity.

The company will be relying on Huawei radio access network (Ran) technology to deliver the service, among other suppliers such as Ericsson.

The announcement makes the UK company the first operator to name an “official switch-on date”. Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Glasgow, Manchester, Liverpool and London will be among the first cities in the world to receive 5G.

A number of other UK cities, including Bournemouth, Plymouth, Newbury, Southampton and Reading, will follow later in the year.

According to a press release, 5G will be priced the same for consumers and business customers, but buyers will need a 5G-ready smartphone to access the service. These include the Xiaomi Mi MIX 3, Samsung S10 5G, Huawei Mate 20 X, and the Huawei Mate X.

Vodafone also said it will be offering a 5G router— the ‘5G Gigacube’— for use in the “home and office”. This will provide high-speed broadband access to businesses without a fixed-line connection, it said, as well as those needing a second connection, or who requiring instant internet access at an outdoor event.

Vodafone UK CEO Nick Jeffery said the announcement meant that UK businesses can “lead the world in adopting 5G to boost productivity and attracts investment.

“It means consumers can get the fastest mobile speeds ever, and it means that our public sector will be able to adopt new services to improve healthcare, social services and housing.”

Offering much lower latency than 4G and the ability to support more devices at one time, 5G is believed to be integral to development of sensor-infrastructure— the backbone of future ‘smart cities’.

“We started our 5G journey more than three years ago,” said Jeffery. “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.”

The announcement comes as the UK government continues its review on the telecoms sector, which could potentially block the use of Huawei’s equipment, over concerns that it could be used as a gateway for espionage by China.

However, it also follows a leak that suggested network providers will be able to use Ran gear, which allows devices to connect to their systems. Vodafone says that it does not use Huawei kit in its core network, where billing and call & data routing takes place.