5G Networks in the UK – Who Has the Fastest Speeds and the Best Network Coverage?

In this article, we compare the data speeds & coverage of mobile networks with 5G. Read on below for Half Cooked's full breakdown.

5g networks uk

5G in the UK is here and it’s growing fast! At the moment, it’s only available in certain locations, primarily large cities, but UK networks are working hard to constantly improve their coverage. EE was the first network to launch a 5G service in the country back in May 2019. The other three major networks quickly followed EE, with Vodafone, O2 and now Three all offering customers access to 5G data speeds. If you’re looking to get access to 5G data speeds, as well as being in a 5G coverage area, you’ll also need a 5G ready device.

In this article, we cover all the necessary 5G information you need to know, as well as the networks which offer 5G in the UK and where.

5g speeds

Networks offering 5G services:

Three logoEE logoVodafone logoo2 logo
BT Mobile logoVOXI LogoSky mobile logoTesco Mobile Logo

Table of Contents

What is 5G?

5G is the fifth generation of wireless technology and currently it’s the fastest wireless standard the world has ever seen. It is a new global wireless technology after 1G, 2G, 3G, and 4G networks. EE is the first network provider to launch 5G in the UK in May 2019, followed by Vodafone shortly afterwards in July 2019.

In simpler terms, 5G delivers higher peak data speeds, super low latency and massive network capacity.

5g gif

Benefits of 5G

There are three major benefits to using 5G on a mobile service. Your download and upload speeds will be much faster, your network capacity will increase and your latency will be considerably lower.

At the time of writing this article, 5G download speeds are tracking around 150Mbps to 200Mbps on average. EE and Three even claim that your download speed could peak at 1Gbps, but it’s highly unlikely at the moment.

5G is designed to support a 100x increase in traffic and network capacity. The additional spectrum and greater network capacity will enable a lot more users, more data and faster connections.

Online gamers will benefit massively from the low latency perks of 5G and it will also help with machine to machine interactions which are basically different devices communicating with each other.

We also urge you to check out unlimited data plans, since you’ll be using much more data at a faster rate due to massively increased download speeds.

benefits of 5g

Networks With 5G

EE 5G

EE mobileCurrently EE has 5G in more UK places than any other network. The mobile network provider offers 5G in 80 cities and towns and the connection is reliable in these locations. However, EE’s 5G coverage isn’t available in all areas of every city and town, so you should always make sure to check the EE’s 5G coverage map before committing to an EE 5G Smart plan.

While EE claims top speeds of over 1Gbps, in reality EE’s average 5G download speed seems to be around the 200-400Mbps threshold (which is about 10 to 20 times faster than your average 4G download speed). We’ll have to wait till independent bodies perform speed tests in the UK to get concrete results.

To enjoy EE’s 5G, you’ll need an EE Smart plan and a 5G phone. You can also read Half Cooked’s extensive EE review, if you wish to learn more about the fastest 4G network in the UK.

Launch DateMay 30, 2019
5G Phones27 phones available
5G Locations
80 towns and cities.


London, Edinburgh, Birmingham, Belfast, Manchester, Cardiff, Bath, Bristol, Chelmsford, Coventry, Leicester, Liverpool, Glasgow, Hull, Leeds, Lichfield, Lisburn, Newcastle, Nottingham, Salford, Sheffield, Stirling Sunderland, Wakefield and Wolverhampton.

Ashton-under-Lyne, Birkenhead, Borehamwood , Bury, Bransholme, Castlereagh, Chatham, Cheshunt, Chesterfield, Clevedon, Clifton (Notts), Clydebank, Dartford, Dinnington, Dudley, Grays, Gillingham, Guildford, Hamilton, Hoddesdon, Harlow, Huddersfield, Inchinnan, Kimberley, Kingston-upon-Thames, Loughborough, Loughton, Maidstone, Milnrow, Motherwell, Newton-le-Willows, Northampton, North Shields, Oldham, Paisley, Potters Bar, Rochdale, Rochester, Romford, Rotherham, Rugeley (West Midlands), Solihull, Southend-on-Sea, South Shields, Staines-upon-Thames, Stevenage, Sutton Coldfield, Swadlincote , Sydenham, Walsall, Waltham Cross, Watford, West Bromwich, Westhoughton and Weybridge.

Three 5G

Three mobileThree claims they are building the fastest 5G network in the UK. This is yet to be proven but there could be some truth behind this claim. Three has more 5G spectrum than all the other mobile network providers in the country. The network has 140MHz of 5G spectrum and 100MHz of it is actively being used for 5G. This means Three’s 5G can handle more data than any other network. The second best is Vodafone with 50MHz of 5G spectrum. This alone doesn’t prove Three’s 5G is the fastest, but shows that Three might have the fastest 5G in the UK some time in the future.

Three’s 5G coverage is active in 68 towns and cities, being only behind EE when it comes to network coverage. Just keep in mind that the network’s 5G coverage isn’t available in all areas of every location listed below.

A great upside with Three is that their 5G services are available with all plans at no extra cost, be it pay monthly or pay as you go. Have a look at our Three Review to discover more about Three’s competitive prices and great perks.

Launch DateFebruary 2020
5G Phones11 phones available
5G Locations68 towns and cities.

Aberdeen, Abingdon-on-Thames, Aldershot, Aldridge, Balloch, Barrow-in-Furness, Basildon, Bath, Bedford, Birkenhead, Birmingham, Blackpool, Borehamwood, Bradford, Brighton, Brookmans Park, Cannock, Cardiff, Chatham, Clayton-le-Woods, Coventry, Crawley, Cullingworth, Derby, Doncaster, Dundee, Glasgow, Gorebridge, Grays, Grimsby, Guildford, Heanor, Hedge End, Hemel Hempstead, Huddersfield, Inchinnan, Ipswich, Leeds, Leicester, Leyland, Liverpool, London, Lower Stondon, Luton, Maidstone, Manchester, Mansfield, Motherwell, Neston, Newquay, Nottingham, Nuneaton, Peterborough, Plymouth, Preston, Reading, Redcar, Royston, Sheffield, Slough, St Albans, Stevenage, Swadlincote, Swindon, Telford, Westhoughton, Wickford, Wigan

Vodafone 5G

vodafone logoVodafone has been providing 5G for some time now and both pay monthly & pay as you go customers can take advantage of 5G. All Vodafone Red and Unlimited plans offer 5G at no extra cost. Vodafone Unlimited Max deal provides unlimited 5G data with no restrictions. However, given how Unlimited Lite and Unlimited deals have speed restrictions -respectively at 2Mbps and 10Mbps- you can only benefit from super-low latency and increased network capacity. At the moment, Vodafone’s 5G network is operating at average speeds of 150-200Mbps, with the network claiming speeds of 1Gbps can be reached.

Vodafone’s 5G coverage is available in 44 cities and towns in the UK, but also in 70 other locations in the EU across Germany, Spain, Italy and Ireland. Currently, Vodafone is the only network offering 5G coverage when travelling abroad.

All Vodafone pay monthly plans (except Basics) include 5G at no extra cost. However, only two Vodafone PAYG bundles come with 5G data speeds.

If you want to know more about Vodafone’s offers and features, don’t forget to read our detailed Vodafone Review!

Launch DateJuly 3, 2019
5G Phones11 phones available
5G Locations44 cities and towns in the UK / 70 cities and towns in the EU.


UK Locations: Ambleside, Bebington, Belfast, Bishopbriggs, Birkenhead, Birmingham, Bootle, Bristol, Bristol and Gatwick Airport, Cardiff, Cheadle and Gatley, Droylsden, Eccles, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Guildford, Horwich, Huyton-with-Roby, Isle of Scilly, Kingswood, Lancaster, Leeds, Liverpool, Llandudno, London, Manchester, Mangotsfield, Newbury, Paisley, Penarth, Plymouth, Portsmouth, Prestwich, Reading, Rochdale, Salford, Solihull, Southampton, Stockport, Stoke-on-Trent, Stretford, Wallasey, Warrington, Wolverhampton

Germany Locations: Aldenhoven, Altenberge, Baunatal, Berlin, Bernau bei Berlin, Birgland, Bochum, Bremen, Chemnitz, Cologne, Dortmund, Dresden, Duisburg, Düsseldorf, Eicklingen, Erfurt, Frankfurt am Main, Hamburg, Harbke, Hattstedt, Hesel, Karlsruhe, Leipzig, Leuna, Lohmar, Lüdersdorf, Mellenthin, Munich, Neukirchen/Erzgebirgskreis, Offenbach am Main, Ratingen, Rielasingen-Worblingen, Roth, Rothenstein, Schlettau, Seehausen, am Staffelsee, Solingen, Stuttgart, Wedemark, Westhausen, Wilsdruff, Wolfsburg, Würselen

Spain Locations: Badajoz, Benidorm, Barcelona, Bilbao, Gijón, La Coruña, Logroño, Madrid, Malaga, Pamplona, San Sebastián, Santander, Seville, Valencia, Vigo, Vitoria, Zaragoza

Italy Locations: Bologna, Milan, Naples, Rome, Turin

Ireland Locations: Cork, Dublin, Galway, Limerick, Waterford

O2 5G

O2 Mobile logoO2’s 5G network is live in 60 cities and towns in the UK. The carrier was aiming to spread its 5G network to 50 locations by the end of summer 2020 and as of June 2020 it passed this goal.

There are no concrete test results yet, the network seems to offer the slowest 5G data speeds.

To benefit from O2’s 5G you’ll need a 5G phone, a 5G SIM, a tariff and be in a 5G coverage area. Do you want to know more about O2? You might want to read our extensive O2 Review and discover what the second largest network in the UK offers.

Launch DateOctober 17, 2019
5G Phones19 phones available
5G Locations60 cities and towns.

Aberdeen, Ashford, Banstead, Basildon, Belfast, Birmingham, Bradford, Brighton, Bristol, Cardiff, Chatham, Chesterfield, Coventry, Dartford, Derby, Dundee, Eastbourne, Edinburgh, Esher, Gateshead, Gillingham, Glasgow, Grays, Hemel Hempstead, Huddersfield, Hull, Leeds, Leicester, Lisburn, Liverpool, London, Lowestoft, Luton, Manchester, Mansfield, Middlesbrough, Newcastle, Newtownabbey, North Shields, Northampton, Norwich, Nottingham, Oxford, Peterborough, Plymouth, Rainham, Redhill, Rotherham, Sheffield, Slough, South Shields, Stoke-on-Trent, Sunbury, Sunderland, Thundersley, Warrington, Weybridge, Windsor, Worthing, York

BT 5G

BT MobileBT Mobile utilises EE’s network & as a result BT’s 5G service is available wherever EE’s is. This means BT customers can take advantage of 5G in 80 cities and towns across the UK. EE plans to roll out to more cities by the end of 2020, this means BT’s 5G will improve too.

Due to piggybacking on EE, BT Mobile’s 5G offers the same data speeds. However, BT Mobile only has 5 devices with 5G support at the time of writing. The network will only let you use their 5G network, if you purchased your device from them.

As always, we’d like to remind you that 5G coverage isn’t available in all areas of every city and town listed below, so make sure to use the network’s coverage checker. You might want to check out our detailed BT Mobile Review to learn more about the network and what it offers.

Launch DateOctober 11, 2019
5G Phones5 phones available
5G Locations80 towns and cities.


London, Edinburgh, Birmingham, Belfast, Manchester, Cardiff, Bath, Bristol, Chelmsford, Coventry, Leicester, Liverpool, Glasgow, Hull, Leeds, Lichfield, Lisburn, Newcastle, Nottingham, Salford, Sheffield, Stirling Sunderland, Wakefield and Wolverhampton.

Ashton-under-Lyne, Birkenhead, Borehamwood , Bury, Bransholme, Castlereagh, Chatham, Cheshunt, Chesterfield, Clevedon, Clifton (Notts), Clydebank, Dartford, Dinnington, Dudley, Grays, Gillingham, Guildford, Hamilton, Hoddesdon, Harlow, Huddersfield, Inchinnan, Kimberley, Kingston-upon-Thames, Loughborough, Loughton, Maidstone, Milnrow, Motherwell, Newton-le-Willows, Northampton, North Shields, Oldham, Paisley, Potters Bar, Rochdale, Rochester, Romford, Rotherham, Rugeley (West Midlands), Solihull, Southend-on-Sea, South Shields, Staines-upon-Thames, Stevenage, Sutton Coldfield, Swadlincote , Sydenham, Walsall, Waltham Cross, Watford, West Bromwich, Westhoughton and Weybridge.

VOXI 5G

VOXI is Vodafone’s low-cost mobile virtual network and it offers a 5G SIM Only plan. It’s on the pricey side, but on the other hand it’s a monthly rolling plan, so it offers great flexibility and if you’re unhappy you can just switch to a different VOXI plan.

The MVNO’s network coverage and data speeds are identical to Vodafone’s, however, their handset options are limited to three devices at the moment. To take advantage of VOXI’s 5G you must have a 5G ready phone with 5G software, VOXI’s 5G tariff and 5G coverage in the area that you are in.

You can also read our detailed VOXI Review to learn more about the network. VOXI’s unlimited social media feature works especially great with 5G.

Launch DateOctober 29, 2019
5G Phones3 phones available
5G Locations44 cities and towns in the UK / 70 cities and towns in the EU.


UK Locations: Ambleside, Bebington, Belfast, Bishopbriggs, Birkenhead, Birmingham, Bootle, Bristol, Bristol and Gatwick Airport, Cardiff, Cheadle and Gatley, Droylsden, Eccles, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Guildford, Horwich, Huyton-with-Roby, Isle of Scilly, Kingswood, Lancaster, Leeds, Liverpool, Llandudno, London, Manchester, Mangotsfield, Newbury, Paisley, Penarth, Plymouth, Portsmouth, Prestwich, Reading, Rochdale, Salford, Solihull, Southampton, Stockport, Stoke-on-Trent, Stretford, Wallasey, Warrington, Wolverhampton

Germany Locations: Aldenhoven, Altenberge, Baunatal, Berlin, Bernau bei Berlin, Birgland, Bochum, Bremen, Chemnitz, Cologne, Dortmund, Dresden, Duisburg, Düsseldorf, Eicklingen, Erfurt, Frankfurt am Main, Hamburg, Harbke, Hattstedt, Hesel, Karlsruhe, Leipzig, Leuna, Lohmar, Lüdersdorf, Mellenthin, Munich, Neukirchen/Erzgebirgskreis, Offenbach am Main, Ratingen, Rielasingen-Worblingen, Roth, Rothenstein, Schlettau, Seehausen, am Staffelsee, Solingen, Stuttgart, Wedemark, Westhausen, Wilsdruff, Wolfsburg, Würselen

Spain Locations: Badajoz, Benidorm, Barcelona, Bilbao, Gijón, La Coruña, Logroño, Madrid, Malaga, Pamplona, San Sebastián, Santander, Seville, Valencia, Vigo, Vitoria, Zaragoza

Italy Locations: Bologna, Milan, Naples, Rome, Turin

Ireland Locations: Cork, Dublin, Galway, Limerick, Waterford

Tesco Mobile 5G

Tesco Mobile logoTesco Mobile is a mobile virtual network running on the O2 Network. Tesco Mobile currently offers four different 5G tariffs and they’re all 12 month contracts.

On Tesco Mobile, you’ll have access to 5G in the same locations as on O2, as well as identical data speeds. Tesco offers double data on all 5G deals if you’re also a Tesco Clubcard Plus member. You can also join the network on a pay monthly phone deal and benefit from 5G perks, but currently there are only four devices to choose from.

Check out our Tesco Mobile Review to learn more about the network and see their other offers.

Launch DateOctober 29, 2019
5G Phones4 phones available
5G LocationsSame as O2.

Sky Mobile 5G

SKY mobile logoSky Mobile uses O2 as its network provider and offers Sky’s 5G coverage is available in 60 cities and towns. Sky Mobile launched its 5G service back in January 2020 and if you’re a Sky VIP member it’s free on all price plans. You can use Sky’s 5G without being a VIP member, but you’ll have to pay an extra £5 each month. However, it’s free to join Sky VIP on the My Sky app.

Being powered by O2’s network, Sky Mobile provides identical data speeds. One major downside to Sky’s 5G is you must purchase your 5G phone directly from Sky or 5G won’t work. The network doesn’t support 5G-ready devices bought from anywhere but Sky Mobile.

If you want to discover more on what Sky Mobile offers, check out our extensive Sky Mobile Review.

Launch DateJanuary 16, 2020
5G Phones4 phones available
5G LocationsSame as O2

Networks without 5G

giffgaff LogoSmarty logoVirgin logoiD mobile logo

Most mobile virtual networks in the UK are yet to launch their 5G services. Our guess is major mobile networks (EE, Three, Vodafone, O2) want to keep 5G as an exclusive offer for their customers first just like when 4G launched in the UK. Carriers like SMARTY and giffgaff officially announced that 5G is ‘coming soon’, but neither set an official date yet. Virgin Mobile on the other hand will probably start offering 5G after the merger of O2 and Virgin Media.
5g networks uk

Frequently Asked Questions

Is 5G safe?

  • Yes, 5G is safe. According to studies published by the World Health Organisation (and many other health organizations) 5G isn’t harmful to health.

Does the UK have 5G?

  • Yes, 5G is available in the UK. EE was the first network to launch a 5G network in May 2019, but now all four major mobile network operators offer 5G.

How much faster is 5G than 4G?

  • Looking at both 5G and 4G average download speeds, it’s safe to say 5G is at least 8 to 10 times faster than 4G. However, the difference will only increase as networks provide more stable and reliable 5G connections over time.

Where is 5G available in the UK?

  • This depends on the network provider. Currently EE offers 5G in 80 cities and towns. Three’s 5G coverage includes 68 cities and towns followed by O2 with 60 locations and Vodafone with 44.

Will 5G affect my health?

  • Mobile networks are built to strict government guidelines in the UK that are informed by the World Health Organisation. So no, it won’t affect your health in any negative way.

Can I use 5G when roaming?

  • In the UK, only Vodafone and its sub-brand VOXI allow using 5G when abroad. You won’t get any 5G coverage with the other networks.

Can I tether when using 5G?

  • Yes, all networks allow roaming when using 5G. However, you should always make sure to check your network’s fair usage policy.

Which mobile network operators offer 5G SIM only deals in the UK?

  • Currently EE, Three, Vodafone, O2, VOXI, Tesco Mobile and Sky Mobile offer 5G SIM only deals. BT Mobile also offers 5G, but only if you purchase a new 5G device directly from them.

When is 5G coming to giffgaff?

  • We know for sure that 5G is coming to giffgaff. giffgaff is running a small trial for 5G so we expect to see some 5G deals from giffgaff soon enough.

When is 5G coming to SMARTY?

  • While SMARTY officially announced that 5G is coming and ‘soon’, the network didn’t announce any official launch date yet.