» ISP News » 
Sponsored Links

O2 Launch Faster 5G Standalone UK Mobile Network in 14 Cities

Thursday, Feb 22nd, 2024 (2:14 pm) - Score 8,640

O2 (Virgin Media / VMO2) has today become the second major UK mobile operator, after Vodafone, to switch-on a commercial 5G Standalone (SA) network in the UK, which will deliver faster mobile broadband speeds (inc. latency) and more service flexibility. The service has initially gone live in parts of 14 cities and comes at “no extra” cost to customers.

At present most existing 5G networks in the UK are classed as Non-Standalone (NSA), which are partly reliant upon some older and slower 4G infrastructure. By comparison, SA networks are pure end-to-end 5G networks that can also deliver improvements such as ultra-low latency times (fast), greater energy efficiency, better upload speeds, network slicing capabilities, improved support for Internet of Things (IoT) devices, increased reliability and security.

NOTE: Network slicing allows for multiple virtual network slices across the same physical network. Each slice is isolated from other network traffic to give dedicated performance, with the features of the slice tailored to the use case requirements (online gaming, enhanced mobile broadband etc.).

The new network from O2 will be available to consumers with 5G Standalone compatible SIMs and devices (more on that later) “at no extra cost“, which means that customers will seamlessly switch between 4G, 5G or 5G Standalone to ensure they experience the best connectivity wherever they are.

The initial launch cities include: Manchester, Liverpool, London, Lincoln, Birmingham, Sheffield, Glasgow, Newcastle, Leeds, York, Belfast, Cardiff, Nottingham and Slough. But O2 has yet to clarify how much 5G SA coverage they’ve been able to deploy in each location and what bands they’re using for the service.

Jeanie York, CTO of VMO2, said:

“The launch of 5G Standalone is the culmination of a multi-year programme and is a real leap forward in the evolution of our mobile network. While it’s still early days, our customer-centric rollout will continue throughout 2024 with some consumer customers seeing the immediate benefits including increased reliability and coverage. This new technology will future proof our mobile network for years to come and paves the way for exciting customer led innovations in the future.”

The operator plans to continue deploying 5G SA technology to more towns and cities throughout the UK during 2024, although they’ve yet to specify any specific coverage targets. However, the Government’s recent Wireless Infrastructure Strategy (WIS) did set out a related ambition, which calls for mobile operators to ensure that “all populated areas to be covered by ‘standalone’ 5G (5G-plus) by 2030” (here).

One catch with new mobile technologies like this is that customers will need the latest software and an R15 SIM in order to access the service, which is currently said to be available on the following devices:

Samsung S24
Samsung S24+
Samsung S24 Ultra
Samsung Galaxy S23 FE
Samsung Galaxy S23+
Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra
Samsung Galaxy A34 5G
Samsung Galaxy A54 5G
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip5 5G
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold5 5G
Samsung Galaxy S22
Samsung Galaxy S22+
Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra
Samsung Galaxy S21 5G
Samsung Galaxy S21+ 5G
Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G
Sony Xperia 1 V
Sony Xperia 5 V
Samsung Galaxy S23
Netgear M6
Samsung A25

Share with Twitter
Share with Linkedin
Share with Facebook
Share with Reddit
Share with Pinterest
By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
Search ISP News
Search ISP Listings
Search ISP Reviews
19 Responses
  1. Avatar photo Charles says:

    Why no support on iPhone or Pixel?

    1. Avatar photo Steve says:

      Vodafone don’t support IPhones either yet

    2. Avatar photo HR2Res says:

      Don’t know why, but Google shows that R15 sims were available in the US from T-Mobile for the Pixel 7 Pro about a year ago, so there appears to be no technical reason (unless there’s something different in the frequency specs of US and UK models).

  2. Avatar photo Tim says:

    I have finally abandoned O2 because they have no 5G support in Chorley/Leyland, gone from a 3Mb 4G service to 350Mb 5G service with Smarty and saved on cost as well. O2 too little, too late and still not there.

    1. Avatar photo Mark says:

      I’ve just ditched them for VF ….. now I know VF are not great either, but VMO2 too much reliance on 3G for my liking, especially in areas where they claim to have 5G!

    2. Avatar photo Rik says:

      Nice to see a fellow Leylander on here. It’s my home town but family are still there. Last time I visited about a month ago I noticed EE 5G is now available but contrary to the 5G myth, it was slower than 4G. Then again, I had the same thing with Three when they first launched 4G, their 3G was faster..

      In Skelmersdale, I often get 150Mpbs on 4G, still no 5G with EEa, yet.

    3. Avatar photo Clearmind60 says:

      As te saying goes: “we will see”. Their so called 5G speeds are beyond poor. I work for the NHS in W London and central London. Their download / upload speeds are very poor. When I was on VM I used to get circa 250 Mbits down. Now I rarely get 6 on their 5G across London.

  3. Avatar photo Lance Manasse says:

    A lot of interesting questions pop up with this…

    Interested to see the requirement of an R15 SIM. Can anyone shed more light on this? Would this be different to the “5G SIMs” that started promoting/mentioning since 5G launched? I always assumed there was fundamentally no difference and just a marketing this (though why when there’s no additional cost).

    I’d also assume the use of “SIM” doesn’t only mean physical SIM.

    Also, no iPhones, i wonder why…

  4. Avatar photo Adam Standen says:

    Does this include O2 MVNO’s?

  5. Avatar photo Roger_Gooner says:

    How odd that O2’s own website says “Get 5G with our latest 5G-ready devices” and lists iPhone 15, iPhone 15 Pro, iPhone 15 Pro Max and Google Pixel 7 Pro.

    1. Avatar photo Anon says:

      Aren’t they referring to 5g NSA?

  6. Avatar photo Sam Perry says:

    Would be nice to see Vodafone push ahead with this.

  7. Avatar photo Stuart says:

    Are VMO2 using new spectrum for this? Will a different 5G logo appear on my Samsung device when I’m on SA as opposed to NSA 5G I wonder?

  8. Avatar photo Andrew says:

    O2 need to put a disclaimer on their website that when they say 5G, They mean 5G NSA. As the iPhone is listed as 5Gready on the O2 website, But isn’t compatible with this 5G standalone, so it’s going to really confuse people

    1. Avatar photo Roger_Gooner says:

      I’m sure Apple will supply UK iPhones with support for R15 SIMs (and will get extra sales when some people upgrade).

  9. Avatar photo O2 says:

    Another gimmick?

    Might be better sorting out there joke of a Network.

    1. Avatar photo Mark says:

      Ive been listening to some podcasts recently where people are discussing that there appear to be a lot of issues with 5G standalone.
      I.e. compatibility seems to be a thing, but no one is admitting it.
      So I dont think its just cost to deploy that has been holding back the technology.
      I guess in countries like Korea, most devices are Samsung and most of the operator’s cells are Samsung so it less of an issue.

      It should be noted that on the London Underground, they are now focussing on LTE, and rely heavily on federated wi-fi offload.
      ‘5G standalone will come later’

  10. Avatar photo Deryk says:

    I use eSims, this maybe a very stupid question but if Vodafone or o2 ever do let iPhones use 5G standalone I won’t actually need to switch back to a physical sim right?

    1. Avatar photo Anon says:

      Nah esims will do it toi

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

NOTE: Your comment may not appear instantly (it may take several hours) due to static caching or random moderation checks by the anti-spam system.
Javascript must be enabled to post (most browsers do this automatically)

Privacy Notice: Please note that news comments are anonymous, which means that we do NOT require you to enter any real personal details to post a message. By clicking to submit a post you agree to storing your comment content, display name, IP, email and / or website details in our database, for as long as the post remains live.

Only the submitted name and comment will be displayed in public, while the rest will be kept private (we will never share this outside of ISPreview, regardless of whether the data is real or fake). This comment system uses submitted IP, email and website address data to spot abuse and spammers. All data is transferred via an encrypted (https secure) session.

NOTE 1: Sometimes your comment might not appear immediately due to site cache (this is cleared every few hours) or it may be caught by automated moderation / anti-spam.

NOTE 2: Comments that break our rules, spam, troll or post via known fake IP/proxy servers may be blocked or removed.
Cheap BIG ISPs for 100Mbps+
Community Fibre UK ISP Logo
Gift: None
Virgin Media UK ISP Logo
Virgin Media £26.00
Gift: None
Shell Energy UK ISP Logo
Shell Energy £26.99
Gift: None
Plusnet UK ISP Logo
Plusnet £27.99
Gift: None
Zen Internet UK ISP Logo
Zen Internet £28.00 - 35.00
Gift: None
Large Availability | View All
Cheapest ISPs for 100Mbps+
Gigaclear UK ISP Logo
Gigaclear £17.00
Gift: None
YouFibre UK ISP Logo
YouFibre £19.99
Gift: None
Community Fibre UK ISP Logo
Gift: None
BeFibre UK ISP Logo
BeFibre £21.00
Gift: £25 Love2Shop Card
Hey! Broadband UK ISP Logo
Gift: None
Large Availability | View All
The Top 15 Category Tags
  1. FTTP (5516)
  2. BT (3514)
  3. Politics (2538)
  4. Openreach (2297)
  5. Business (2262)
  6. Building Digital UK (2245)
  7. FTTC (2044)
  8. Mobile Broadband (1973)
  9. Statistics (1788)
  10. 4G (1664)
  11. Virgin Media (1619)
  12. Ofcom Regulation (1461)
  13. Fibre Optic (1395)
  14. Wireless Internet (1389)
  15. FTTH (1381)

Helpful ISP Guides and Tips


Copyright © 1999 to Present - ISPreview.co.uk - All Rights Reserved - Terms , Privacy and Cookie Policy , Links , Website Rules , Contact