U.K. telco O2 says it is providing 5G service in 20 cities across the country as of the end of 2019.
O2, which is part of Telefonica, initially launched its 5G service in October, in London, Edinburgh, Cardiff, Belfast, Leeds and Slough. It subsequently switched on 5G hotspots in Leicester and Lisburn in November and now customers in Manchester, Birmingham, Glasgow, Liverpool, Newcastle, Bradford, Sheffield, Coventry, Nottingham, Norwich, Bristol, Derby and Stoke are also connected to the 5G network.
O2 also said that its 5G rollout will continue with a plan to reach a total of 50 locations by summer 2020. By the end of March, the carrier expects to provide 5G in Windsor, Eton, Reading, Blackpool, Bournemouth and Guildford.
“We were incredibly proud to switch on our 5G network in October, and it is brilliant to hit our target of 20 towns and cities connected to our next-generation network as we head into 2020,” said Derek McManus, COO for Telefónica UK. “Our range of tariffs make it easy and fair for customers to access 5G, with flexible plans that cost no more than 4G.”
O2 also said that it has a broad range of 5G phones for customers to choose from; Samsung Galaxy S10 5G; Samsung Galaxy Note10+ 5G; Samsung Galaxy A90 (5G); OPPO Reno 5G; Huawei Mate 20 X 5G; and the Xiaomi Mi MIX 3 5G.
O2 is also working with businesses in the construction, retail, transport and utility sectors to understand how businesses will benefit from 5G. These include the testing of autonomous vehicles in Greenwich, working with the European Space Agency, providing connectivity to smart ambulances and creating ‘remote [augmented reality] experts’ with Northumbrian Water.
O2’s 5G network infrastructure is being rolled out in partnership with Ericsson and Nokia, following a competitive tender completed in 2019.
The new 5G network supplements O2’s existing 4G connectivity, which remains the backbone of the network. O2 currently offers 4G in over 19,000 cities, towns and villages across the U.K.
U.K. telecommunications regulator Ofcom had recently confirmed plans to release additional spectrum for the provision of 5G services in spring 2020.
In a statement, Ofcom said that the auction will include 80 megahertz in the 700 MHz band and 120 megahertz in the 3.6-3.8 GHz band to support the expansion of 5G services across the U.K.
Ofcom also said that the country’s four mobile operators had agreed to cooperate on improving rural coverage, which will make the regulator to drop a previous proposal to include coverage obligations in spectrum licenses.
Last year, U.K. telcos obtained spectrum for the future provision of 5G services. Vodafone won 50 megahertz of spectrum in the 3.4GHz band after paying £378 million (currently $496 million). EE won 40 megahertz for which it paid £303 million. Three secured 20 megahertz of 3.4 GHz spectrum at a cost of £151.3 million, while Telefónica-owned O2 picked up 40 megahertz for £318m.