The operator also cut its annual dividend to offset cost of 5G spectrum
Vodafone has announced that it will switch on its 5G network in seven cities across the UK on July 3 2019.
This makes it the first UK operator to announce an official switch-on date. The cities that will receive 5G on July 3 are Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Glasgow, Manchester, Liverpool, and London.
Cities that will see 5G later in the year are Birkenhead, Blackpool, Bournemouth, Guildford, Newbury, Portsmouth, Plymouth, Reading, Southampton, Stoke-on-Trent, Warrington and Wolverhampton.
Vodafone will not price 5G higher than 4G.
The operator also announced several devices that will be 5G-compatible to launch during the summer. They are:
- the Xiaomi Mi Mix 5G 3 5G, which will be exclusively available from Vodafone from May 23.
- The Samsung S10 5G and Huawei Mate 20 X 5G, which will be available for preorder later this month
- The Huawei Mate X and a 5G home router, the 5G Gigacube, which will be available this summer.
All handsets will be 4G-compatible and will switch to 5G when it is turned on.
Vodafone UK CEO Nick Jeffery said: “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.
“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.”
However, Vodafone also revealed it had cut its annual dividend by 40 per cent to offset the costs of buying 5G spectrum, the first time it has cut its dividend payments since it started them in 1990.
Vodafone Group CEO Nick Read cited spectrum auctions in Italy and Germany alongside harder trading conditions in Italy and Germany as some of the reasons behind the cut.
Telecoms analyst Paolo Pescatore said: “The dividend cut is a massive blow for investors.
“Results highlight the ongoing challenges facing the company in its quest to turnaround its fortunes. All hopes seem to be pinned on 5G, but the business model is unproven.
“Huge investment is required to roll out these new ultra-fast networks but it comes at a cost.”