Vodafone has become the second UK mobile operator to turn on its 5G network, offering faster speeds and the opportunity for new services.
Launched today at the Sky Garden in London, the company’s 5G network is now available in seven cities across the UK, including London, Manchester and Birmingham, as well as the Isles of Scilly, with plans to extend this reach a total of 19 towns and cities by the end of the year.
British F1 champion Lewis Hamilton took to the stage to push the 5G button along with Vodafone UK’s CEO Nick Jeffery.
The network has gone live in seven UK cities, including Cardiff, London, Manchester and Glasgow. Making a success of the service could be crucial to the firm which has seen financial losses and customer complaints in recent years. 5G networks offer more capacity than 4G with speeds up to 100 times faster.
The three other cities to benefit are Birmingham, Bristol and Liverpool. Twelve additional towns and cities will follow later this year – Birkenhead, Blackpool, Bournemouth, Guildford, Newbury, Portsmouth, Plymouth, Reading, Southampton, Stoke-on-Trent, Warrington and Wolverhampton.
Commenting on the announcement, Business Director of Vodafone UK, Anne Sheehan, said: “5G is a game-changer for the economy and UK businesses. We are committed to helping our customers take advantage of this technology by making it widely available in the UK and through roaming. We want to help UK businesses become global leaders and 5G will play an important role in achieving that aim.”
“Speed-tiered unlimited data tariffs are a first for the UK. As a new concept, Vodafone will need to articulate the propositions carefully to consumers only just beginning to appreciate the value of megabytes and gigabytes,” said Kester Mann, a mobile analyst with research firm CCS Insight.
To encourage small businesses to take up 5G services, Vodafone is offering a series of new plans that give business customers access to unlimited data and 5G at the same price as 4G.
“After a hotly contested battle with Vodafone, EE claimed the honour of switching on the UK’s first 5G network, in May 2019. However, the reality is that being first means little to consumers and the initial launches this summer represent only the first few tentative steps in a marathon 5G journey ahead,” said Mann.
“The real winners in 5G will only become apparent several years down the line.”
“In 2012, the UK was only the 53rd nation to launch 4G behind places such as Guam, Azerbaijan and Kiribati. Now, with all four networks planning to switch on 5G in 2019 it moves from laggard to leader,” he added.