O2 switches on 5G in six UK cities

O2's 5G plans are priced the same as their 4G equivalents.

Katie Collins Senior European Correspondent
Katie a UK-based news reporter and features writer. Officially, she is CNET's European correspondent, covering tech policy and Big Tech in the EU and UK. Unofficially, she serves as CNET's Taylor Swift correspondent. You can also find her writing about tech for good, ethics and human rights, the climate crisis, robots, travel and digital culture. She was once described a "living synth" by London's Evening Standard for having a microchip injected into her hand.
Katie Collins
2 min read

O2's 5G is here.

Leon Neal/Getty Images

On Thursday,  O2 became the last British major phone carrier to switch on its 5G network, starting with key locations in six cities across the UK.

Following in the footsteps of other UK networks, O2 is providing an unlimited data option for heavy phone users and also promises its 5G plans will be priced the same as their 4G equivalents. O2's 5G is initially launching in six cities -- Belfast, Cardiff, Edinburgh, London, Slough and Leeds -- and will be in more than 20 towns and cities across the country by the end of the year, the company said. O2 is targeting areas with high footfall for its initial switch-on, including major train stations, shopping centers and sporting venues including Twickenham and Emirates Stadium.

5G promises to bring faster, more consistent data to people's phones, and enable new technologies such as autonomous vehicles, augmented reality experiences and remote surgery. Over the past year it's slowly started rolling out in countries across Europe and the wider world, and will soon be the industry standard.

"We want the UK to be a global leader in 5G and for the majority of the population to have access to a 5G signal by 2027," said UK digital minister Matt Warman in a statement commenting on O2's launch. "This investment by O2 is a great step forward in rolling out the technology across our home nations, providing world-class infrastructure to help us grow our economy and compete strongly."

To use 5G in the UK, you'll need a compatible device. O2 has four options for you to choose from: the Samsung Galaxy S10 5G, the Samsung Galaxy Note10+ 5G, the Samsung Galaxy A90 (5G) or the Xiaomi Mi MIX 3 5G. With no 5G iPhones available this year, Apple users are out of luck, but O2 is offering £100 off the company's 2020 device if you buy an iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro or the iPhone 11 Pro Max on a 90GB, 120GB or Unlimited tariff this year.

O2's 5G custom plans range between £25 and £40 depending on data, or between £39 and £48 for bundles that include an Oculus Go VR headset and a subscription to MelodyVR, which offers virtual reality concert experiences.