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Vodafone to launch 5G network in July using Huawei kit

Ellie Zolfagharifard
Vodafone is the first to put a date on its 5G roll-out  - PA

Vodafone will turn on its 5G service in the UK on 3 July with the help of equipment by Chinese telecoms provider Huawei.

5G is an evolution of current network technology, 4G, and will enable download speeds between 10 and 100 times faster than current rates.

Vodafone is the first to put a date on its 5G roll-out - a service which it says will cost of both business and consumers the same as using a 4G network.

Seven cities will be involved in the initial roll-out including London, Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Glasgow, Liverpool and Manchester.

"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.

The company will rely on equipment from Huawei, which has become embroiled in controversy over how its kit may be used by China to spy on foreign states.

The US claims that the Chinese Communist Party could use Huawei as a tool to spy. Huawei has repeatedly denied the allegations.

Huawei has been banned from providing equipment or services to US government agencies. The ban also prevents US government agencies from using third-party contractors who use Huawei products.

Washington's attempts to persuade other countries to also shun Huawei from 5G networks have so far had mixed results.

The Telegraph reported last month that the Prime Minister Theresa May would allow Huawei's presence despite concerns raised by several Cabinet ministers.

The Government has since said no decision has yet been made over Huawei's presence in 5G networks and is still carrying out a review.

Vodafone does not use Huawei's equipment in its core network. However, a total ban on Huawei in the UK will mean it will have to undertake a costly programming of stripping the kit from its 4G services.

The announcement comes as Vodafone said it had slashed its shareholder dividend payout as it revealed the group swung to a 7.6 billion euro (£6.6 billion) annual loss.

The group said its full-year dividend - one of the biggest in Britain - has been cut to 9 cents a share, down from 15 cents a share the previous year, in what marked a stinging blow to investors.