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O2 announces 5G switch-on date

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Written by: Emma Lunn
25/07/2019
O2 will offer 5G connectivity from October 2019, although pricing for the super-speed service remains unclear.

Mobile network O2 has confirmed that it will switch on its 5G network in October, going live in 20 towns and cities this year, and a total of 50 locations by Summer 2020.

The company is targeting its 5G rollout where it says customers need it most, prioritising key hubs in areas of Belfast, Cardiff, Edinburgh, London, Slough and Leeds, as well as transport hubs, key business areas and entertainment and sports venues including The O2 and Twickenham Stadium.

As the name suggests, 5G is the fifth generation of mobile networks, following previous mobile generations 2G, 3G and 4G. Compared to most of today’s networks, 5G is set to be faster and more reliable, with greater capacity and lower response times.

Getting 5G ready

For O2 customers who want to get 5G ready ahead of launch, the Samsung Galaxy S10 5G will be available to purchase from 8 August, with the Xiaomi Mix 3 5G coming later in August. Further 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 tariff that suits them.

Customers on O2 custom plans can move to 5G at any time they chose. For customers who want to stick with their current handset, custom plans allow them to trade in their existing non-5G handset and take out a new 5G handset and tariff any time after launch. Full detail of O2’s tariffs, handsets and devices will be revealed later this year.

The 5G rollout

EE launched its 5G service in May, and Vodafone at the beginning of July. BT Mobile and Three plan to launch their respective 5G services in the next few months.

Ernest Doku, mobiles expert at uSwitch.com, said: “O2 is finally joining the 5G party as it becomes the last of the UK’s major network coverage providers to unveil its next-generation service. The network has taken its time to join its rivals, realising that it is more important to get things right than be first, and its users can now get excited by the prospect of an October launch date.

“But O2 still hasn’t told consumers know how its 5G services will be priced. Customers will value competitive pricing highly, so will not be able to make an informed decision on which 5G provider to choose until all the information is available to them.

“Now the whole industry has revealed their 5G plans it is important to start spelling out the benefits to consumers. Our recent research found that barely one in 20 consumers cares about this new technology, with better functionality and crucially price deemed far more important when buying a new handset.”

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