O2's 5G network will roll out in October

5G phone
(Image credit: Future)

The final major UK telecom company that hadn’t announced when its 5G network would roll out was O2, but we now know the O2 5G release date as well as which cities it will launch in and what 5G phones you’ll be able to use.

The O2 5G networks will go live in October – we don’t know a definitive date for now, but nearer to that month we’d expect to hear a firm launch date.

EE and Vodafone both have their 5G networks launched already, with Three offering it via broadband from sometime in August. This means O2 is playing catch-up to the major networks – but first doesn’t always mean best.

Where can I get O2 5G?

The first cities the O2 5G network will cover are London, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Belfast – all the UK’s capitals – and also Leeds and Slough. Why Slough, you ask, since it’s so small compared to the others? It’s probably because that’s where O2’s based.

After the launch date, O2 has plans to spread its 5G network to 20 cities by the end of 2019, including Bristol, Norwich and Reading, then 50 cities by summer 2020 including Milton Keynes, Manchester and Brighton.

There will be so many 5G-connected cities thanks to O2 partnering with Vodafone to roll out 5G on both networks as quick as possible.

O2 stated the first areas in cities to be 5G connected are social hubs like sports stadiums, shopping malls, transport hubs like train stations, and music venues, and it suggested that it could be several years before there’s dense residential penetration – so don’t expect a 5G bedroom straight away.

Which phones can I use on O2 5G?

Regarding compatible handsets, O2 will start selling the Samsung Galaxy S10 5G from August 8, the day after the Samsung Galaxy Note 10 launches interestingly enough (and we’re expecting to see a Note 10 5G too!) and then the Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 5G later in August. O2 promises other handsets will be confirmed at a later date.

O2 previously announced that the Huawei Mate 20 X 5G would be available on the network, but currently it doesn’t seem like that’ll be the case – bear in mind O2 announced that before the Huawei ban cast uncertainty on Huawei’s hardware future. Other networks that stated the phone would be available when 5G launched have since dropped it, and it seems O2 has done the same. We’ve reached out for further comment to clarify this point.