The operator will switch on its 5G network on 3 July 2019 in seven cities across the UK.
Background: Vodafone was the first UK operator to showcase a demonstration of the capabilities of 5G, with the display of a 5G holographic call in September 2018. This year, it ran tests in airports (Manchester) and railway stations (Birmingham) to show customers the capabilities of the new technology.
The official launch: Vodafone has become the first UK operator to give the date of its commercial 5G launch. On Wednesday, 3 July 2019, 5G will be available in seven UK cities (Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Glasgow, Manchester, Liverpool and London). 12 more cities will be served later in the year (Vodafone has pledged to connect them by the end of 2019). During the summer, the company will make available 5G enabled handsets – the first of which will go on sale next week. Vodafone will also offer a 5G router for home and office use. Interestingly 5G will be offered at the same prices as 4G, for both consumers and business customers. So far EE has said it expects to charge a small premium, whereas Three will not – citing the early stage of roll out and initial limited coverage of the network.
5G roaming in a handle of European cities: 5G will also be part of Vodafone’s network sharing agreements. In announcing the results for the last financial year, Vodafone highlighted that its network sharing agreement with Telefonica in the UK is now extended to 5G, and that two similar deals have been struck with Telecom Italia in Italy, and with Orange in Spain, both including 4G and 5G meaning that customers will be able to roam onto these networks when abroad.