U.K. operator O2, owned by Spanish telecommunications group Telefonica, has announced plans to launch 5G in the country in October.
The telco said it aims to cover a total of 20 town and cities with 5G technology this year and a total of 50 by mid-2020.
For the rollout of 5G technology, the carrier said it will prioritize transport hubs, key business areas and entertainment and sports venues, including The O2 and Twickenham Stadium.
5G network for coverage will initially switch on across key hubs in areas of Belfast, Cardiff, Edinburgh, London, Slough and Leeds.
By the end of the year, the service will be available in Belfast, Blackpool, Bournemouth, Bristol, Cardiff, Coventry, Derby, Edinburgh, Eton, Guildford, Leeds, Leicester, Lisburn, London, Norwich, Nottingham, Reading, Slough, Stoke, and Windsor, the company said.
O2 said that the Samsung Galaxy S10 5G will be available to purchase starting August 8, with the Xiaomi Mix 3 5G coming later in August. Additional devices will be rolled out ready for launch. Following the launch of 5G in October, both consumer and business customers will be able to select a 5G plan.
“5G is going to be a game changer for our country. Whether it’s for people or businesses, the power of this next-generation network is going to unlock a world of possibilities for our economy and society,” said Mark Evans, CEO, Telefónica UK. “As we switch on our network across the country, our intelligence-led roll-out prioritises the key areas in towns and cities first – the places where our customers need, and will use, 5G the most. We’re also giving our customers maximum flexibility with our industry-leading custom plans, letting people adopt 5G at a time that’s right for them.”
Coinciding with its 5G launch, O2 will also be opening its 5G innovation spaces within its Wayra accelerator hubs. The spaces will provide next generation 5G test environments to start-ups, the company said.
O2 also highlighted that it will implement a “balanced” 5G rollout with a commitment to continue upgrading its 4G network across the UK. O2 currently offers 4G in almost 19,000 cities, towns and villages across the country.
Earlier this week, O2 and rival operator Vodafone announced a deal to share 5G active equipment, such as radio antennas, on joint network sites across the country.
The two carriers said that this network sharing agreement will allow them to speed up the deployment of 5G technology and lower roll-out costs.
Vodafone and O2 also agreed to greater 5G network autonomy on approximately 2,700 sites in 23 of the UK’s larger cities, representing just over 16% of combined mast sites. This is in addition to London – previously announced in 2018 – bringing the total number of autonomous sites to 25%. At these sites, each party will install their own radio equipment, fiber ‘backhaul’ connection and power supply.
Last week, Vodafone announced the launch of 5G technology in Birkenhead, Bolton, Gatwick, Lancaster, Newbury, Plymouth, Stoke-on-Trent and Wolverhampton. These new cities join Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Glasgow, Manchester, Liverpool and London, which all went live with 5G at the beginning of July.
Vodafone was the second operator to launch 5G in the UK. EE switched on 5G in the U.K. in May, while Three is slated to launch in August.