Vodafone has become the first UK mobile operator to set a firm date for the commercial launch of its 5G network, with consumer and business customers able to access this technology from July 3rd.
The company confirmed that seven cities will be included in the initial launch, with these being Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Glasgow, Manchester, Liverpool and London. A further 12 locations, including Blackpool, Portsmouth, Stoke-on-Trent and Reading, will follow before the end of 2019.
Vodafone also confirmed users will not have to pay any additional premium for access to these services, with 5G connectivity being priced identically to its 4G offerings. More details on pricing will be unveiled next week, when the first 5G-ready handsets will also go on sale.
Users will have a choice of several compatible devices at launch, with the first of these – the Xiaomi Mi MIX 3 5G – on sale from May 23rd, while the Samsung S10 5G and Huawei Mate 20 X 5G will be available for pre-order later this month. Customers can still use these devices to connect to 4G networks until July, and will be able to use 5G when the network is switched on and all manufacturer software updates are completed.
Vodafone also confirmed it will offer 5G roaming for users, which means people with compatible handsets and plans will also be able to access 5G services in Germany, Italy and Spain over the summer. The company noted it is the first provider in the world to offer this.
Chief executive at Vodafone Nick Jeffery said: "It means that UK businesses can lead the world in adopting 5G to boost productivity and attract 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."
The company noted the 5G network will be particularly beneficial to users in crowded areas, such as busy shopping centres, sports stadiums and concert venues.
However, the benefits will not be restricted to mobile users, as the company will also offer a 5G router for use in home and office environments, bringing fast connectivity to customers without a high-speed fixed line connection.