Vodafone’s 5G network goes live today – it’s the second UK 5G network after EE and before Three goes live with mobile 5G broadband in London next month.
While the red network isn’t first, it’s keen to avoid making the same mistake it did with 4G, where EE launched a year ahead of rivals and in doing so gained a significant competitive advantage.
Vodafone’s head of networks Andrea Dona told Pocket-lint last month that the network was working hard to be the best at 5G having modernised 16,000 network sites so far. “We’ve got the latest electronics on our base stations… which gives us a really good footprint on which we can roll out 5G. By the end of the year we’ll be more or less on par with our competitors.
“[That’s] in contrast to what happened with 4G, where our competitors launched the year before. That’s not going to happen this time.”
Vodafone plans to have 1,000 5G sites live by 2020. The 5G network is launching in seven cities today including Bristol, Cardiff, Glasgow, Manchester, Liverpool and London.
Birkenhead, Blackpool, Bournemouth, Guildford, Newbury, Portsmouth, Plymouth, Reading, Southampton, Stoke-on-Trent, Warrington and Wolverhampton will go live later in the year.
One of Vodafone’s key plays is with 5G roaming that will follow later in the Summer – but this will only be in selected countries that have both 5G and an agreement with Voda.
As for handsets, Vodafone is ranging the Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 5G and Samsung S10 5G – predictably it relented on providing customers with the Huawei Mate 20 X 5G due to the Huawei trade ban. However, Huawei itself says it will be available in the UK imminently – though that’s no guarantee that it will come to Vodafone at that point.
We’re going to a launch event this morning at which we’re hoping to find out more details about other phones as well as Vodafone’s 5G home broadband service – we know that Vodafone is using HTC’s 5G Mobile Smart Hub and Huawei’s 5G CPE Pro router for this – although we believe it may only be a business play at first.
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