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5G in the UK: What networks are offering 5G, what phones will have 5G and when can I get it?

Victoria Woollaston
10 Jun 2019
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EE rolled out its initial services on 30 May 2019, Vodafone is launching its UK network in July and Three 5G will arrive in August

After years of promises and false starts, 5G has finally launched in the UK.

EE became the first UK mobile network operator to roll out the first of its services on 30 May 2019 in London. Vodafone's network is due to go live in July and Three 5G is coming in August.

Read on to find out more about 5G in the UK, which networks are offering 5G and which cities are getting the next-generation technology. We'll update this page as more details are announced, and you can find out the best 5G smartphones ahead of your city/network going live.

EE 5G

EE, which owns the most combined 4G and 5G spectrum, went live with the first 5G networks on 30 May. It was the first to cross the line by upgrading 1,500 sites in London, Edinburgh, Cardiff, Belfast, Birmingham and Manchester to 5G. In total, the BT-owned network plans to offer 5G services in 16 UK cities before the end of the year including:

  • Cardiff
  • Belfast
  • Edinburgh
  • Birmingham
  • Manchester
  • Bristol
  • Coventry
  • Glasgow
  • Hull
  • Leeds
  • Leicester
  • Liverpool
  • Newcastle
  • Nottingham
  • Sheffield

The following cities are due to get EE 5G by the end of 2020:

  • Aberdeen
  • Cambridge
  • Derby
  • Gloucester
  • Peterborough
  • Plymouth
  • Portsmouth
  • Southampton
  • Worcester
  • Wolverhampton

EE hit 2.8Gbits/sec in lab conditions and 1.8Gbits/sec in trials, while Three Hong Kong recently reached download speeds of 3.2Gbits/sec in trials. Ofcom expects real-world speeds of between 10Gbits/sec and 50Gbits/sec once the technology matures. To put this into perspective, even at the lower end you could download a 100GB 4K movie file in just over a minute and a Blu-ray-quality full HD movie in under 20 seconds.

    Vodafone 5G

    Vodafone trialled the first proper use of “full 5G” – that’s 5G running on a separate network, rather than piggy-backing on existing 4G infrastructure – at a site in Manchester’s MediaCityUK in January. The following month, it switched on a 5G network at Manchester Airport.

    It’s due to launch its 5G network in the following cities on 3 July:

    • Birmingham
    • Bristol
    • Cardiff
    • Glasgow
    • Manchester
    • Liverpool
    • London

    The following cities will go live by the end of the year:

    • Birkenhead
    • Blackpool
    • Bournemouth
    • Guildford
    • Newbury
    • Portsmouth
    • Plymouth
    • Reading
    • Southampton
    • Stoke-on-Trent
    • Warrington
    • Wolverhampton

    It also plans to offer the world’s first 5G roaming plans covering the UK, Germany, Italy and Spain later this summer, as well as a Vodafone 5G home router.

    Vodafone’s 5G router could replace broadband contracts in homes and offices, especially those customers without access to a high-speed fixed line connection. It could even act as a second network, or be used for outdoor events.

    Ahead of the switch-on, Vodafone has put a number of 5G-ready handsets on offer including the Xiaomi Mi MIX 3 5G and the Samsung S10 5G. It had planned to launch 5G on the Huawei Mate X (5G), however, since the Huawei ban in the US it has postponed plans to see how the situation develops.

    READ NEXT: Huawei ban: What does it mean for you?

    The Xiaomi model is available exclusively from Vodafone from 23 May. The Samsung S10 5G will be available to pre-order "later this month" and the Huawei model is set to launch this summer. If you order the latter, you’ll get a 5G home router called the 5G Gigacube.

    Three 5G

    Three is launching its 5G service for home broadband customers in London, in August.

    The company then plans to launch a mobile version across 25 towns and cities before the end of 2019 including:

    • London
    • Birmingham
    • Bolton
    • Bradford
    • Brighton
    • Bristol
    • Cardiff
    • Coventry
    • Derby
    • Edinburgh
    • Glasgow
    • Hull
    • Leeds
    • Leicester
    • Liverpool
    • Manchester
    • Middlesbrough
    • Milton Keynes
    • Nottingham
    • Reading
    • Rotherham
    • Sheffield
    • Slough
    • Sunderland
    • Wolverhampton

    Three claims its network will offer "peak mobile speeds" that will be at least twice as fast as its rivals, and with a "more reliable connection."

    O2 5G

    O2 is focusing on Belfast, Cardiff, Edinburgh and London in the near future but has not announced an exact launch date. It hopes to go live by 2020.

    READ NEXT: Help Expert Reviews choose the best broadband supplier of 2019

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