O2 will deploy 5G services in 4 UK cities before the end of 2019

Telefonica has announced that its UK based mobile network operator, O2, is to launch 5G services in the UK by the end of 2019.

O2 will launch 5G services in the UK’s four national capitals, namely London, Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast, with other areas expected to receive coverage in early 2020.

“5G is a promise of so much more – for consumers, business, industry and public services.  O2 is working in partnership with British industry, encouraging businesses, big and small, to engage with the possibilities of 5G technology through both our testbed programme and launch deployment,” said Mark Evans, CEO, Telefónica UK.

“O2’s 5G network will arrive this year and we want the next-generation of mobile services to launch with a bang. 5G will benefit customers from launch, with better speeds and improved customer experience.  Following the demand from our FTSE 100 trials, we are extending our testbed opportunities so that businesses of all sizes can work us to build the 5G Economy. Mobile is one of the UK’s most powerful opportunities to strengthen our economy and improve the lives of British people and 5G is a significant milestone for this nation.”

The announcement may come as a surprise to some, as Telefonica had previously criticised operators for "rushing out" a 5G offering prior to 2020.

In May last year, Spanish language news service EFE quoted Telefonica’s network and infrastructure strategy director Javier Guttierrez as saying that any 5G networks bought to market before that date would be "very rudimentary".

“If someone starts deploying 5G next year [in 2019], they will have to do so via pre-commercial technology that will surely need to be updated at a software level and will also probably to change equipment later level,” Guttierez told journalists from EFE.

However, Telefonica appears to have changed its tune on the 5G front and has announced that it will invest an additional £1 billion in capex to drive its 5G network rollout.


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