O2 has become the latest MNO to launch its 5G network in the UK, introducting its new high-speed network in six towns and cities.
The operator has started its rollout in Belfast, Cardiff, Edinburgh, London, Slough and Leeds and has vowed to reach 20 locations by the end of the year.
The company said it would initially focus on areas of heavy footfall, where improved data connections and speed would be most needed, including London Waterloo and King’s Cross train stations, around Haymarket in Edinburgh, Trinity shopping centre in Leeds and Belfast city centre.
It will also be introduced around sporting venues such as Twickenham and Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium, O2 said.
O2’s launch follows that of fellow operators EE, Vodafone and Three, who each began their own rollouts to towns and cities around the country earlier this year.
Mark Evans, chief executive of O2 parent company Telefonica 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.
“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,” Evans added.
O2 is offering four 5G-enabled phones, four from Samsung and one from Xiaomi.
Paolo Pescatore, an analyst at PP Foresight, said he doubted the fact that O2 was the last to launch would have a detrimental effect. But, he added, all the operators face a challenge.
“All providers have now launched 5G, but the key will be who can make money. This is where the opportunity resides to differentiate, and operators will need to focus on enterprises. This will help O2 stand out as it has been working closely with numerous companies,” said Pescatore.