UK carrier O2 will switch on its 5G in October 2019, the company said on Wednesday. It's the last of the country's four major carriers to announced its 5G rollout plans, as EE and Vodafone have already hit the on switch on their own next-generation networks, and Three is due to do so next month.
Much like its competitors, O2, which is part of Telefonica, is first targeting the UK's biggest towns and cities for the introduction of faster networks speeds. It promises 5G will go live in at least 20 towns and 50 cities by summer 2020. The first places in the country to get O2's 5G will be Belfast, Cardiff, Edinburgh, London, Slough and Leeds. O2 is hoping its network will improve capacity during busy times at busy locations, including train stations and entertainment venues such as Twickenham Stadium and the O2 Arena in London.
5G is the successor to the 4G network most of us rely on right now to ensure stable and relatively fast internet access on our phones when we're on the go. Not only is it going to speed up and generally improve our experience of downloading and streaming video, but it also promises to for new technologies, such as autonomous vehicles and fully mobile VR.
In a statement O2 CEO Mark Evans said 5G would be a "game changer" for the 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," he said. "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."
If you're on O2, you'll be free to upgrade to 5G at any time you choose, with custom plans allowing the flexibility to trade in a non-5G phone for a 5G device any time after launch. Keen beans who want to be able to use the network from day one will have the option to buy the Samsung Galaxy S10 5G from Aug. 8 with the Xiaomi Mix 3 5G later in August, so that it'll be possible to jump onto 5G immediately after the switch on.