O2 is starting its 5G rollout in Belfast, Cardiff, Edinburgh and London later this year. The mobile operator said it will bring 5G to other areas of the UK "from 2020", which will coincide with the wider availability of 5G handsets.
The mobile operator said it will also make 5G test environments accessible to business alongside this, including at its Wayra accelerator hubs. Last year O2 put a call out to big businesses in the UK across the construction, retail, transport and utility sectors to help find 5G use cases, and said that as a result of the demand for these initial trials with large firms it is now extending the testbeds so smaller companies can test out 5G.
O2 said it is also working on a range of 5G trials across the country, including the AutoAir project at Millbrook Proving Ground to test automotive use cases with new British equipment vendors, as well as wider industrial applications as part of the Worcestershire 5G Consortium. In April 2018, O2 bought £523.6m-worth of new mobile airwaves at Ofcom's spectrum auction, including 40MHz of 3.4GHz spectrum to be used for 5G.
SEE: IT pro's guide to the evolution and impact of 5G technology (free PDF)
O2 also has a 5G test network at The O2 venue in London to test the robustness of the technology for a wide range of consumer and business applications ahead of launch. The network is made up of an independent core network serving five locations inside the venue, using the 3.4GHz spectrum.
5G holds the promise of much more bandwidth for consumers and a network that responds much faster, making applications like virtual reality and real-time video much more usable. 5G can also support many more devices, which could lead to massive growth in the Internet of Things. However, few 5G networks are likely to be up and running at any scale before the end of the year and 5G handsets aren't likely to be widely available until around the same time.
Late last year, EE said it will be launching 5G within 16 UK cities in 2019, and switching on 5G in the busiest locations across London, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Belfast, Birmingham and Manchester as phase one of its launch, followed by parts of Glasgow, Newcastle, Liverpool, Leeds, Hull, Sheffield, Nottingham, Leicester, Coventry and Bristol. Vodafone and Three have also said they will deliver 5G in 2019.
RECENT AND RELATED COVERAGE
How 5G can unlock IoT's potential
The Internet of Things will involve an astounding amount of data—and the next generation of wireless communications could play a key role.
LG to unveil first 5G smartphone with Snapdragon 855 at MWC
LG's yet-to-be-named first 5G smartphone will be unveiled on February 24th at Mobile World Congress, sporting a Snapdragon 855 processor, a vapor chamber, and a 4,000 mAh battery.
ZTE makes 5G call on prototype smartphone and end-to-end kit
Company with reputation problems calls in Al Gore's failed US vice-presidental candidate.
5G, smart cities, and other top tech trends for 2019 (TechRepublic)
Quantitative futurist Amy Webb shares her predictions for 2019 tech trends.
Verizon says its 'laser focused' on 5G after solid Q4 adjusted earnings
Verizon took a big writeoff for Verizon Media, but said it added 1.2 million retail customers and has revamped to focus on 5G experiences.
LG sets up 6G research centre at KAIST
LG Electronics and Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) have opened a 6G research centre to cooperate in the development of the next-generation wireless network.
New Galaxy S10 phones bring it: 4 rear cameras, 1TB of storage, in-screen fingerprint scanner and 5G (CNET)
Meet the Galaxy S10, S10 Plus, "cheap" Galaxy S10E and Galaxy S10 5G.