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O2 launches 5G in six cities with no premium charge

Jasper Hart
October 17, 2019

Four compatible devices available to order

O2’s 5G network launches today, making it the final MNO in the UK to offer a commercial 5G service.

It is available in six cities: London, Cardiff, Belfast, Edinburgh, Leeds and Slough, with an initial focus on heavy footfall areas such as:

  • London Waterloo and Kings Cross
  • Haymarket in Edinburgh
  • Leeds’ Trinity Shopping Centre
  • Belfast South City Centre

It will expand to 20 cities by the end of the year, and 50 by summer 2020.

O2’s 5G offerings are available at the same prices as its 4G offerings.

The operator’s currently available 5G devices are the Samsung Galaxy S10 5G, the Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ 5G, the Samsung Galaxy A90 5G, and the Xiaomi Mi MIX 3 5G.

O2 previously broadcast the world’s first live 5G TV advert during the Rugby World Cup earlier this month. It has also partnered with Samsung to develop 5G-enabled “smart ambulances” for the NHS.

It is also hoping to provide new consumer use cases for the technology through partnerships with VR companies Oculus and MelodyVR to provide live performance experiences for customers.

Tariffs come with a 12-month subscription to MelodyVR and an Oculus Go headset.

O2 CEO Mark Evans said: “We’re launching with a range of tariffs that make it easy and fair for customers to access 5G, with flexible plans that cost no more than 4G. We’re also switching on 5G in important parts of towns and cities first, places where it will benefit customers and businesses most.

“I believe 5G is going to revolutionise the way people and businesses use mobile connectivity, unlocking huge possibilities for our economy and society. No one in the country has all the answers today, but I’m excited about getting it into the hands of our customers and working with leading partners to help shape the future of 5G for the next generation.”

Telecoms analyst Paolo Pescatore added: “This is great for UK PLC with all providers having launched 5G services.

“Early movers have not gained an advantage; this is in stark contrast to 4G. It is hard to sell a service that is not widely available at a premium. The only exemption is bragging rights about being the first.

“However, the move to unlimited so quickly is a worry. This is a challenge to all and poses considerable financial pressures given the further investment needed in acquiring spectrum and building the 5G network.

“The key will be who can make money. This is where the opportunity resides to differentiate and in particular focus on enterprises and specific verticals. This will help O2 stand out as it has been working closely with numerous companies. 5G is set to radically transform companies.

“Next year will be a big one for 5G as the service becomes more available ahead of the new iPhone. All devices will support 5G and that will help raise the awareness of 5G.”

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