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Vodafone launches 5G across seven cities

It's live in the UK cities of London, Cardiff, Manchester, Liverpool, Glasgow, Bristol and Birmingham.

Vodafone's 5G UK network is now live in London, Cardiff, Manchester, Liverpool, Glasgow, Bristol and Birmingham.
Juan Garzon/CNET

Vodafone on Wednesday switched on its new 5G mobile network in seven UK cities. Customers are able to choose between the Samsung Galaxy S10 5G or the Xiaomi Mi Mix 3Vodafone is also offering a 5G router for home and office services called the 5G GigaCube.

The carrier is charging 5G customers the same as 4G, offering unlimited mobile data plans starting at £23 ($29).

5G is the next-generation network being used by smartphones to provide faster speeds and more capacity. EE switched on its 5G network in the UK in MayThree's new network set to go live in August. Vodafone had activated the UK's first 5G network in Salford, Greater Manchester, in October.

Vodafone's network is now live for UK customers across London, Cardiff, Manchester, Liverpool, Glasgow, Bristol and Birmingham. Previously announcing plans to have 5G across 19 cities in the UK in 2019, it will also launch in Southampton, Blackpool, Bournemouth, Guildford, Plymouth, Portsmouth, Reading, Newbury, Wolverhampton, Birkenhead, Stoke-on-Trent and Warrington by the end of the year.

Vodafone Unlimited is scheduled to launch on July 10, providing unlimited data.

In total, Vodafone has 27 cities with live 5G networks in Europe, and is offering 5G roaming in four countries over the summer -- the UK, Germany, Italy and Spain.

Opening Vodafone's 5G service was Formula 1 champion Lewis Hamilton, with the carrier saying he was chosen as its 5G ambassador due to being a "global roamer and someone synonymous with speed."

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"I'm so proud to announce I'm joining the Vodafone team as their UK 5G Ambassador. And I'm excited to say I've just switched on their 5G across the UK!" Hamilton posted on Instagram Wednesday. "It's going to totally transform the way we live, work and play. I'm honoured to play a small part in what is going to become such a revolution."

Hamilton also pointed to a Vodafone blog addressing health and safety concerns in using 5G, wherein the carrier provides reassurances that the radio frequencies being used for 5G are similar to those already being used for 4G, Wi-Fi and non-telecommunications uses.

"Neither the radio frequencies nor the number of masts will increase dramatically in the UK," Vodafone says. Non-ionising radiation via 5G also only causes cells to vibrate at worst, Vodafone said, and doesn't change cell structure or cause lasting damage.