In Depth

Vodafone 5G confirmed: Huawei kit, release date, locations and more

The operator’s ultra-fast mobile connection is launching within weeks

Vodafone has become the first mobile network provider to announce a date for the switch-on of its 5G network in the UK. 

The ultra-fast service will go live in seven cities on 3 July, followed by a wider roll-out across the nation towards the end of the year. 

According to The Daily Telegraph, Vodafone will rely on equipment provided by Chinese tech giant Huawei, which is currently “embroiled in controversy” over claims that its network infrastructure kits could be used by China to eavesdrop on foreign countries.

Huawei is currently permitted to operate in Britain and is set to be an integral part of Vodafone’s 5G coverage, but the Chinese firm’s involvement is under government review - which could scupper the network provider’s plans. 

In the meantime, here’s everything we know about the faster mobile connection:  

What is 5G?

In short, 5G is a new form of wireless connection that promises broadband-equivalent download speeds for smartphone users. The faster networks will run alongside the 4G and 3G services currently available across the UK.  

As well as being far faster, the new technology will be able to handle more data and connect more devices simultaneously, says Wired.

A Vodafone spokesperson said that the 5G service will deliver speeds that are “up to ten times faster than 4G”. 

Early trials in airports and train stations have revealed that users “can download TV box sets or movies in a matter of seconds before they embark on their journey”, the spokesperson added.

How much will it cost?

Vodafone is expected to announce price plans next week but has confirmed that 5G services won’t carry a premium over its existing 4G deals. 

However, most of today’s smartphones, including the iPhone XS and Google Pixel 3, are not compatible with 5G networks.

To access the faster connections, users will need a 5G compatible phone such as the Samsung Galaxy S10 5G or the upcoming Huawei Mate X folding phone, says TechRadar

Further compatible devices are due to launch before the 5G signal goes live, including the rumoured OnePlus 7 Pro 5G and the Oppo Reno 5G. 

Which cities will get it?

The first places to get the Vodafone 5G signal will be:

  • Birmingham
  • Bristol
  • Cardiff
  • Glasgow
  • Liverpool
  • London
  • Manchester

Vodafone plans to extend its ultra-fast network to the following 12 cities by the end of 2019:

  • Birkenhead
  • Blackpool
  • Bournemouth
  • Guildford
  • Newbury
  • Portsmouth
  • Plymouth
  • Reading
  • Southampton
  • Stoke-on-Trent
  • Warrington
  • Wolverhampton
Will Huawei be allowed to use its network tech in the UK?

The US is pressuring UK authorities to ditch Huawei tech, claiming the company could “disrupt or spy on its clients’ communications by the Chinese Communist Party”, the BBC reports.

Along with the Donald Trump administration, New Zealand and Australia have also banned the use of Huawei tech in their 5G services, but a UK government leak last month suggested that Theresa May would permit “radio access network (Ran)” kits - which enable mobile devices to connect to a provider’s network.  

May’s government is still reviewing Huawei’s presence in Britain. If the Chinese tech firm were to be rejected, it could force Vodafone to rip up and replace its 5G infrastructure.

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