The entire mobile industry is laser-focused on 5G and all that it entails: improved infrastructure, faster communications, lower latency, and increased job and economic growth. The coming of 5G can’t come fast enough, but for some, it’s only a few months away. As reported in FierceWireless, O2, the Telefónica-owned British mobile operator announced plans to rollout 5G service in London and five other U.K. cities this October. If you work or live in Belfast, Cardiff, Edinburgh, London, Slough, or Leeds, you will be among the first to experience all that 5G has to offer. Further reporting indicates that 20 additional cities will be 5G-ready before the end of the year with plans to expand to another 30 locations by mid-2020. If you’re doing the math, that’s close to 60 cities and towns in the U.K. where consumers will be able to download an HD movie in seconds flat (read more on B-Stock’s reporting on 5G and the connected future).
O2’s deployment strategy includes targeting transportation hubs, key business areas and entertainment and sports venues as the first locations. Furthermore, the operator plans to work directly with the U.K.’s Network Rail and Northumbrian Water group. This makes sense as 5G has as much potential for services, utilities, businesses and government as it does for consumers. With 5G technology, things like automating trains, subways, traffic lights, the energy grid in general and so much more becomes possible. In the future, 5G technologies could even help the flow of traffic for automated cars, so drivers can focus on their coffee and mobile device instead of the road.
For now, the only mobile device offered by O2 that will support 5G is Samsung’s Galaxy S10 5G, with the Xiaomi Mix 3 5G coming in August. The company has also announced that additional devices will be rolled out and ready before October and that 5G service will be available to both consumer and business customers at launch.
Don’t count 4G out of the picture quite yet. There are a very limited number of 5G model phones available; and those phones are extremely expensive: Samsung currently has the S10 on sale starting at $1,300 while Verizon is selling the moto z4 for $500, which can be upgraded to 5G when it becomes available. Because of this, 4G will still be around for quite some time. O2 acknowledged this by stating they are still committed to upgrading its 4G network across the U.K. The operator cited a survey from YouGov that found only 11% of U.K. consumers believe operators should prioritize 5G rollouts, while 31% want improved 4G to be more of a priority.
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