When Is 5G Coming to the UK? (Updated for 2020)

UK 5G rollout began in 2020

The United Kingdom is one of many countries with 5G access. Depending on the provider, UK mobile subscribers can get 5G right now in major areas.

5G is a huge advancement over 4G when it comes to speed and latency, which is why it will improve so many areas of our lives, like vehicle communication, smart cities, mobile communication, VR and AR, etc.

5G in the UK

Several companies have already launched 5G in the UK, but not in every city. Most 5G providers are rolling out 5G in the United Kingdom throughout 2020.

The UK flag and flag of Europe on a pole.

EE

Europe's largest 4G provider, and the UK's biggest network operator, might soon become its biggest 5G provider. EE currently has 5G live in 50 cities and large towns.

EE began rolling out 5G on May 22, 2019, in London, Birmingham, Cardiff, Belfast, Manchester, and Edinburgh. 5G service in the UK officially switched on for those six cities on May 30, making EE the first company to launch 5G in the UK.

On November 19, 2019, EE announced more 5G-accessible areas in Castlereagh, Guildford, Hamilton, Harlow, Hoddesdon, Kimberley, Lisburn, Maidstone, Sydenham, Watford, and Wolverhampton. They also turned on 5G sites in Liverpool, Glasgow, and Huddersfield.

Bristol Parkway, Cardiff Castle, and London’s Carnaby Street and Camden Market have 5G access from EE as well.

The following 5G-enabled sites were announced on December 18, 2019: Hull, Leeds, Newcastle, Nottingham, Sheffield, and Sunderland.

EE's goal is to bring live 5G to more than 70 cities and large towns by March 2020, including these:

  • Aberdeen
  • Cambridge
  • Derby
  • Gloucester
  • Peterborough
  • Plymouth
  • Portsmouth
  • Southampton
  • Worcester

EE is providing to its customers the OnePlus 7 Pro 5G smartphone, HTC 5G Hub, Samsung's Galaxy S10 5G, LG's V50 ThinQ 5G, OPPO Reno 5G, and Huawei Mate X.

The 5G plans from EE start from 10 GB for £54 /month ($68 USD) and extend up to 120 GB for £74 /month ($94 USD).

EE's 5G Wi-Fi service can be used with the HTC 5G Hub for an upfront cost of £100 ($127 USD). Included is either 50 GB of data per month for £50 per month ($63 USD) or £75 per month ($95 USD) with 100 GB of data allowance every month.

O2

Another company launching 5G in the UK is O2. On October 17, 2019, the UK's second-largest telecom provider rolled out 5G in a handful of cities as part of their plan to reach 20 cities before 2020.

O2 5G service continued to roll out throughout 2019 and reached 20 cities by December 31, including Belfast, Cardiff, Edinburgh, London, Slough, Leeds, Birmingham, Glasgow, Liverpool, Newcastle, Bradford, Sheffield, Coventry, and other locations.

The company offers unlimited data on their 5G plans, and several 5G devices: Samsung Galaxy S10 5G, Xiaomi Mi MIX 3 5G, Samsung Galaxy Note10+ 5G, Samsung Galaxy A90 5G, and OPPO Reno 5G.

The O2 network is also accessed by a company called Tesco Mobile. They'll offer 5G in early 2020 in parts of several cities (see them all here).

Vodafone

More proof that UK is pushing hard towards 5G is the fact that Vodafone UK, the country's third largest mobile telecom, is also actively deploying the fifth-generation wireless network.

Vodafone 5G originally launched in just a handful of locations on July 3, 2019, but have since expanded to include 40 locations in the UK, including the following:

  • Birkenhead
  • Birmingham
  • Bristol
  • Bolton
  • Cardiff
  • Gatwick
  • Glasgow
  • Manchester
  • Lancaster
  • Liverpool
  • London
  • Newbury
  • Plymouth
  • Stoke-on-Trent
  • Wolverhampton

In 2017, Vodafone UK tested 5G in car-to-car communications; they made UK's first 5G holographic phone call in 2018; in October 2018, switched on a 5G trial in Salford, Greater Manchester; in December of 2018, began installing antennae under manhole covers to pave the way for 5G; and in February 2019, connected Manchester Airport to their 5G network.

According to the company, 5G pricing is the same as using a 4G network. At least four 5G smartphones will be usable on Vodafone's 5G network, and a 5G home router (see available ones here).

Three UK

Three UK subscribers who want 5G at home can subscribe to their 5G broadband plan, which provides unlimited data on a 12-month contract for £30 per month. Installation is performed via a plug-and-play hub. Availability is currently limited to customers in certain parts of London.

Customers can also look forward to mobile 5G with several Three UK 5G phones: Samsung Galaxy S20, Samsung Galaxy Note10+, Samsung Galaxy S10 5G, Samsung Galaxy A90 5G, Huawei Mate 20 X 5G, and Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 5G.

Three's mobile 5G service will be available in dozens of locations by the end of February 2020.

BT

UK 5G access is also available for BT customers. 50 towns and cities have access to 5G in the UK, including London, Birmingham, Manchester, Edinburgh, Cardiff, Belfast, Glasgow, Newcastle, Leeds, Liverpool, Hull, Sunderland, Sheffield, Nottingham, Leicester, and Coventry.

Other 5G coverage areas include London’s Waterloo and Euston stations, Cardiff Central station, Glasgow’s Bath Street and St Enoch Square, Belfast’s Kingspan Stadium, and Coventry’s Council House and Cathedral ruins.

See BT's 5G coverage map for a visual look at where you can get 5G in the UK.

The BT Mobile 5G phones and plans page has more information on how you can access the network. There are four 5G plans to pick from: 6 GB, 45 GB, 90 GB, or 100 GB. BT Halo customers get double the data on any of those plans, with the 100 GB one boosted to unlimited 5G data.

Sky Mobile

Sky Mobile has launched 5G in the UK in parts of 20 locations, including Belfast, Cardiff, Edinburgh, London, Slough, Leeds, Leicester, Lisburn, Manchester, Birmingham, Glasgow, Liverpool, Newcastle, Bradford, Sheffield, Coventry, Nottingham, Norwich, Bristol, Derby, and Stoke.

A total of 50 cities will have 5G access in the UK from Sky Mobile by the summer of 2020.

Sky VIP members can get 5G free forever. Otherwise, it's £5 /month.

5G Trials in the UK

Beyond the companies mentioned above that are actively testing and rolling out 5G networks, is the 5G Innovation Centre (5GIC) at the University of Surrey in Guildford, Surrey, United Kingdom.

5GIC is a testbed where researchers and partners can test and develop, in a real-world environment, any tech that could run on the next-gen wireless network. Their goal is to test 5G both inside and outside, in urban and rural locations where coverage might be difficult, and places where there isn't already a mobile network set up.

CityFibre and Arqiva announced in December 2018, details about the country's largest 5G small cell pilot trial in the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham. The companies are creating a 15 km high density fibre network which provides the bandwidth for mobile network operators to explore 5G. The aim is to “show the business and consumer benefits of this architecture and a successful rollout in Hammersmith & Fulham can be the prelude to a wider deployment in future.