O2 5G is being switched on in October in six locations

25 July 2019

O2 5G

We knew O2 5G was coming soon, but we now have a much better idea of exactly when, as the network has announced that the switch-on will happen in October.

It still hasn’t said exactly what date, but has revealed that Belfast, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Leeds, London and Slough will have 5G on day one, with 20 towns and cities set to get the superfast network by the end of 2019, and 30 more – for 50 in total – set to get it by summer 2020.

You can see full details of these in the chart below – though note that 7 of the locations set to get 5G by summer 2020 haven’t yet been revealed.

O2 5G at launch O2 5G by end of 2019 O2 5G by summer 2020
Belfast Blackpool Aberdeen
Cardiff Bournemouth Bradford
Edinburgh Bristol Brighton
Leeds Coventry Birkenhead
London Derby Birmingham
Slough Eton Cambridge
  Guildford Glasgow
  Leicester Hove
  Lisburn Kingston
  Norwich Liverpool
  Nottingham Luton
  Reading Manchester
  Stoke Milton Keynes
  Windsor Newbury

That means that O2 has confirmed more of its 5G roll out plans than any other network, even though both EE and Vodafone have already launched a 5G service. Though notably Three looks like it will have more 5G locations than O2 by the end of 2019, with 25 planned in total.

It’s worth noting that as with other networks, O2’s 5G coverage will initially be patchy, even in cities that have it. The network has said it’s focusing on the areas where people need it most, such as major transport hubs, as well as entertainment and sport venues, including The O2 and Twickenham Stadium.

If you’re on one of O2’s custom plans then you’ll be able to move to 5G whenever you want, and you won’t even need to wait for launch to get a 5G handset, as O2 plans to offer the Samsung Galaxy S10 5G from August 8th, and the Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 5G from later in August.

Mark Evans, CEO at Telefónica UK, said: “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.

“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.”

Of course, 5G will be good for business too, and O2 is already exploring that, because as well as offering 5G on business plans, it has for example worked with the Northumbrian Water Group to look into using 5G smart sensors to monitor water quality, and with Network Rail, to work on 5G technology trials.

At the launch of its 5G service, O2 will also be opening its 5G innovation spaces at its Wayra accelerator hubs, providing 5G test environments to companies.

This all follows the recent news that O2 has finalised its 5G infrastructure sharing plans with Vodafone, which should help both networks scale up their 5G services far faster than they would otherwise be able to.

But if you’re not ready to jump on board with 5G – don’t worry. O2 claims that it still considers 4G to be the backbone of its network, and that it will continue making improvements on that front.

Sub-Editor at 5G.co.uk

James is sub-editor at both 5G.co.uk and TechRadar. Also works as a researcher/ technical writer for 5G.co.uk and several other websites including TechRadar, T3, Smart TV Radar, 3G.co.uk with work on the web, in print and on TV.

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