Vodafone will switch on its 5G network for homes and businesses in Bristol and six other UK cities in a matter of weeks.

The launch on 3 July will have four 5G smartphones and a 5G home router available and will cost the same as 4G says the company. The network equipment is supplied by Huawei, which has a multicore chip design centre in Bristol. However Vodafone has dropped handsets from the company following tensions with the US government.

Vodafone will also offer 5G roaming in the UK, Germany, Italy and Spain over the summer.

Bristol joins South Korea and small areas of the US as the first cities to have 5G, along with Birmingham, Cardiff, Glasgow, Manchester, Liverpool and London. 12 other UK cities will follow later this year.

“We started our 5G journey more than three years ago. We led the way in setting 5G standards to ensure phones and networks work well together. We upgraded our masts to be able to take 5G without disruption. And we were the first UK company to test 5G over our all-fibre core fixed and mobile network,” said Vodafone UK CEO Nick Jeffery.

“This is important. It means we can today announce the largest launch of 5G in the UK and be the first to announce 5G roaming. It means that UK businesses can lead the world in adopting 5G to boost productivity and attract investment. It means consumers can get the fastest mobile speeds ever, and it means that our public sector will be able to adopt new services to improve healthcare, social services and housing.”

The 5G handsets are:

  • the Xiaomi Mi MIX 3 5G smartphone, which will initially be available exclusively from Vodafone online and in store from 23 May 2019;
  • the Samsung S10 5G will be available for pre-order later this month; and
  • the Huawei Mate X (5G) has been dropped from the lineup, and the availability of an exclusive 5G home router, called the 5G Gigacube, this summer has yet to be confirmed.

The price plans will be unveiled next week to coincide with the availability of the first handset. Handsets can initially be used over 4G, and will be able to use 5G when the network is switched on and all manufacturer software updates are completed.