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The UK gets its first official 5G launch date

The Verge logoThe Verge 6 days ago Jon Porter
a close up of a screen of a cell phone © Image: Vodafone

Vodafone has announced that its 5G network will go live on July 3rd, making it the first UK carrier to set a hard date for the launch of its next-gen mobile network.

The service will be available in seven cities at first, and Vodafone plans to release four handsets and one home router on its network in the coming months. The operator says that prices for its 5G plans will be the same as their 4G equivalents, and will announce the new price plans next week.

At launch, Vodafone’s 5G network will be available in seven cities; Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Glasgow, Manchester, Liverpool and London.

By the end of the year, the operator plans to add 12 more cities — Birkenhead, Blackpool, Bournemouth, Guildford, Newbury, Portsmouth, Plymouth, Reading, Southampton, Stoke-on-Trent, Warrington and Wolverhampton — for a total of 19 cities. Outside of the UK, Vodafone will offer 5G roaming across Germany, Italy, and Spain. 

Four 5G phones will be available for the new network soon. The first of these, the Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 5G, will go on sale starting next week, while the Huawei Mate 20 X (5G) and Samsung S10 5G will be available to preorder later this month.

Vodafone also says that Huawei’s 5G foldable handset, the Huawei Mate X, will be available this summer, and that a 5G home router called the 5G Gigacube will also be available. Pricing of these handsets and router is due to be announced next week, and they will initially be available to use on 4G networks before the July 3rd switch on date.

An advertisement for Vodafone 5G network in Bucharest, Romania © Getty An advertisement for Vodafone 5G network in Bucharest, Romania

A July launch for Vodafone’s network means the UK’s first next-gen mobile network could arrive months after the US.

Verizon’s 5G network was switched on in the beginning of April in parts of Chicago and Minneapolis, but at the time we found that coverage was very limited when we tried it for ourselves. There was also only one 5G device available at the time.

Verizon also chose to charge $10 (£7.72) extra for 5G over 4G, while Vodafone customers will get access to the new network at no extra charge. So while the UK has had to wait longer than the US for its first 5G network, at launch it will be available in more cities, with more devices, and at no extra cost over 4G.

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Gallery: Here are the US cities we know will have 5G networks lit up for Samsung's new Galaxy S10 5G phone (Business Insider)

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