British mobile network operator O2 UK has announced the launch of its 5G network with a range of new tariffs, including an unlimited data option, at the same price as its 4G equivalents. In a press release regarding the development, the cellco confirmed that its 5G network at launch is available in six cities, those being Belfast, Cardiff, Edinburgh, London, Slough and Leeds. Within these areas, the cellco said it was initially switching on the network ‘where it’s needed most, including busy footfall areas’. Looking ahead, meanwhile, it has said its expects its 5G coverage to have been extended to a total of 20 towns and cities by the end of this year, with that figure set to rise to 50 by summer 2020. O2’s 5G network infrastructure is being rolled out in partnership with Ericsson and Nokia, following a competitive tender earlier this year.
O2 UK also noted that it expects the new 5G network to supplement its existing 4G connectivity, which remains ‘the backbone of the network’. It said it now offers LTE coverage in almost 19,000 cities, towns and villages across the UK, adding that in the first half of 2019 it had upgraded 4G capacity in a further 500,000 UK postal codes. Earlier this year, O2 announced that it had partnered with other operators to develop the Shared Rural Network (SRN) proposal to increase total UK geographic coverage from 67% to 92%. In total, the operator claims to be investing more than GBP2 million (USD2.6 million) a day in its network.
Commenting, Telefonica UK CEO Mark Evans said: ‘Today is a significant moment for our customers and our business as we switch on the O2 5G network. 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.’