5G State of Play in UK: launch dates and phone releases

By Michelle Donegan 15 May 2019

5G in the UK

Now that Vodafone has revealed that it will launch 5G on July 3 in seven cities for consumers and business customers, it’s a good time to take stock of the four main operators’ plans for when and where they will rollout 5G and what devices they will offer.

Vodafone is the first UK operator to set a launch date, but it might not be the first operator to launch commercial services. There is plenty of time between now and July 3 for one of the other three operators to seize the “first” title, given that they have all been gearing up for launches this year.

Here’s the current 5G state of play based on what we know so far about the operators’ plans:

Operator

Launch Date

Locations

5G Devices

EE

2019 - imminent

Initial launch: Belfast, Birmingham, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Manchester, London.

Plus 10 more cities this year

Samsung Galaxy S10 5G

LG V50 ThinQ (exclusive)

Huawei Mate X

OPPO Reno 5G (exclusive)

HTC 5G Mobile Smart Hub

OnePlus 7 Pro 5G

O2

H2 2019

Initial launch: Belfast, Cardiff, Edinburgh and London

Samsung Galaxy S10 5G

Three

H2 2019

TBD

Huawei Mate X

HTC 5G hub

Vodafone

3 July 2019

Initial launch: Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Glasgow, Manchester, Liverpool, London.

Plus 12 more cities later this year

 

Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 5G smartphone (exclusive)

Samsung Galaxy S10 5G

Huawei Mate 20 X (5G)

Huawei Mate X

5G Gigacube home router (exclusive)

Vodafone

Vodafone’s 5G service will be available to consumers and businesses from July 3 in seven UK cities:  Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Glasgow, Manchester, Liverpool and London. The operator said that 5G services would be priced the same as 4G and that it would offer 5G roaming in Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK. Four 5G smartphones – the first of which can be ordered from late May -- and one home router will initially be offered to support the service.

Following the initial launch, Vodafone plans to add 12 more cities later this year:  Birkenhead, Blackpool, Bournemouth, Guildford, Newbury, Portsmouth, Plymouth, Reading, Southampton, Stoke-on-Trent, Warrington and Wolverhampton.

EE

In early May, EE said that it would launch 5G “imminently” and that it was on track to roll out the service in 16 cities in 2019. The initial launch will be in six cities: Belfast, Birmingham, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Manchester and London. Within those cities, EE has targeted busy areas for early coverage -- namely, Hyde Park in London, the Welsh Assembly in Cardiff, Belfast City Airport, Waverly Train Station in Edinburgh, Manchester Arena and the Bullring in Birmingham.

EE will add 10 more cities during 2019: Glasgow, Newcastle, Liverpool, Leeds, Hull, Sheffield, Nottingham, Leicester, Coventry and Bristol. The operator seems to have lined up more 5G smartphones than its rivals, but it has not yet revealed details about pricing or launch dates.

O2

O2 has said that it will launch 5G in four cites -- Belfast, Cardiff, Edinburgh and London – in 2019. Additional coverage to other cities will be rolled out from 2020, although the operator has not specified locations. The only 5G device partnership we know about is the Samsung Galaxy S10 5G. With scant details revealed, O2 is keeping its 5G cards close to its chest.

Three

Like O2, Three has not given away many details about its 5G plans. We know that services will launch in the second half of 2019, but we don’t yet know where. The operator has so far lined up two devices – the Huawei Mate X and the HTC 5G hub. The operator currently has two live sites in London, which serve as testbeds.

About Michelle Donegan

Michelle Donegan is a tech writer who has covered the communications industry for more than 25 years on both sides of the pond. Having worked for various industry titles, including Communications Week International, Total Telecom and Light Reading, she specializes in mobile network technology trends. 

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