The next generation mobile phone network – 5G – promises supersonic download speeds, an end to buffering videos and lag-free gaming. And it’s happening now.
Here’s a quick run down of what you need to know:
It’s coming soon … depending where you live
EE is first off the blocks with 5G available from 30th May in Cardiff, Edinburgh, Belfast, Birmingham, Manchester and London. EE promises it will be rolled out to 10 more cities by the end of 2019: Glasgow, Newcastle, Liverpool, Leeds, Hull, Sheffield, Nottingham, Leicester, Coventry and Bristol.
Vodafone will launch on 3rd July in Glasgow, London, Manchester, Liverpool, Birmingham, Cardiff and Bristol. By the end of the year Birkenhead, Blackpool, Bournemouth, Guildford, Newbury, Portsmouth, Plymouth, Reading, Southampton, Stoke-on-Trent, Warrington and Wolverhampton will also be connected.
02 won’t be launching 5G until 2020, when Cardiff, Edinburgh, Belfast and London will be the first to connect.
Three have said they will launch in the second half of 2019 while Virgin and ID Mobile have not yet released their plans.
You need a 5G-ready phone to access it
Only phones with a 5G modem will work on the new network and there’s not a lot of choice at the moment. As you’d expect, these are at the pricy end of the spectrum and include:
- Xiaomi’s Mi Mix 3 5G
- OnePlus 7 Pro 5G
- Samsung Galaxy S10 5G
- Oppo Reno 5G
- LG V50 ThinQ 5G
Apple has not yet announced a 5G ready phone.
5G plans will be more expensive – for now
So far, only EE and Vodafone have announced their 5G plans.
On EE, the cheapest deal is sim-only for 20GB data at £32 a month. If you want a phone too, prices start at £54 per month with 10GB data.
Vodafone plans start at £50 per month with 5GB data.
As 5G becomes more widespread and accessible to more people, prices are likely to become more competitive. You’ll need to weigh the advantages of being an early adopter against the cost of being faster than everyone else.