Vodafone has said it plans to switch on its first 5G services in the UK on 3 July, offering faster and more reliable data services in busy areas.
The announcement coincided with news that the operator was slashing dividend payouts to investors for the first time since it began the payments, as a direct result of heavy expenditures to buy 5G spectrum licences in Germany and Italy.
Vodafone, the first company to announce a date for launching 5G services in the UK, said it planned to offer both business and consumer packages.
The next-generation plans would cost the same as 4G, the operator said.
It said it would give details on 5G price plans next week.
Initial services are to be offered in Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Glasgow, Manchester, Liverpool and London.
Another dozen locations are planned to join the list by the end of the year, namely Birkenhead, Blackpool, Bournemouth, Guildford, Newbury, Portsmouth, Plymouth, Reading, Southampton, Stoke-on-Trent, Warrington and Wolverhampton.
“Offering speeds over 5G up to 10 times faster than 4G, we’ve shown commuters at busy airports and railway stations that they can download TV box sets or movies in a matter of seconds before they embark on their journey,” Vodafone said.
Users require a 5G-compatible smartphone or router to access the services.
The operator said it plans to sell 5G smartphones from Xiaomi, Samsung and Huawei and a Huawei home router, with the devices launching at different times over the next few weeks.
Vodafone said it began working on 5G some three years ago, leading to today’s launch.
But the firm’s investments have taken their toll, with the company announcing it would cut its annual dividend by 40 percent.
The cut is the first time Vodafone has reduced the dividend since it began paying it in the early 1990s.
Vodafone has spent almost 4 billion euros (£3.47bn) on 5G spectrum in Germany and Italy over the past year, increasing its debt to 27bn euros.
It made a net loss of 7.6bn euros, compared with 2.8bn euros in profits last year.
“Vodafone’s results highlight the ongoing challenges facing the company in its quest to turn around its fortunes,” said Paolo Pescatore, a telecoms analyst at PP Foresight.
“Huge investment is required to roll out these new ultra-fast networks, but it comes at a cost.”
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