Sky Mobile has finally launched 5G with an initial roll-out covering 21 locations across the UK.
Sky piggybacks on O2’s system as it doesn’t have its own infrastructure, leaving it lagging behind rivals Vodafone and EE, which have 50 and 37 locations respectively.
But by now offering customers the option to access the ultra-fast mobile broadband, it leaves just Three as the only major supplier without 5G tariffs for mobile phones.
Some of the locations now supported by Sky 5G include Derby, Leicester and Stoke, as well as the UK’s largest cities.
Sky says its VIP users will upgrade to 5G for free, but regular customers will have to splash out an extra £5 on a monthly basis for access.
However, customers can upgrade to Sky VIP at no extra cost, avoiding any extra fees.
‘We’re excited to be launching superfast 5G on the award-winning Sky Mobile network, and even more excited to be offering it free to all Sky VIP customers,’ said Sky Mobile’s Paul Sweeney.
‘Sky Mobile is the ideal choice for anyone who wants a faster mobile connection and great value.’
The list of destinations includes some smaller cities and towns, but is still infuriatingly unobtainable for people on the outskirts and in rural areas.
Sky vows to expand its 5G coverage to at least 50 locations by the summer.
Sky offers the ability for customers to check to see if their home region is covered by 5G and if upgrading is worth it its own online tool.
However, recent analysis reveals these coverage checkers can not necessarily be trusted.
The Local Government Association (LGA) found earlier this month these sites, which are used by millions of Britons every year, are misleading customers.
The LGA says that network operators rely on computer modelling to tell people what the coverage in a specific location is.
But these can be inaccurate and overly generous, with many customers receiving less reliable service than they were promised.
Specific information about who is in reach of the 5G masts is one issue facing customers debating whether to upgrade, but many people are also stuck with archaic connectivity.
A recent Ofcom report discovered more than 50,000 homes are stuck with mediocre broadband and 4G, let alone 5G.
It also found that 610,000 UK homes and businesses suffer without a ‘reasonable connection’, defined as a download speed of at least 10 Mbps.
In contrast, 5G offers download speeds of upwards of 500mbps.
Sky’s plans start at £28 a month for its lowest spec handset for two years with a measly 3GB of monthly data.
3GB of data on a 5G tariff could be expended in a matter of days, leaving the customer without internet or needing to splash out on costly top-ups.
Therefore, the most viable option for most will cost £36 (Samsung Galaxy A90 5G, 24 months) and give 9GB of data.
If it is a high or mid-level specification handset on a one-year contract you are after, monthly expenditure will range from £59 – £71 a month.
Ernest Doku, mobiles expert at uSwitch.com, said: ‘This announcement by Sky Mobile is great news for its customers, and gives another boost to 5G across the UK.
‘The network is offering 5G without an extra charge to customers on its Sky VIP loyalty programme, which is a free perk for existing users.
‘If you are a Sky Mobile user, you may want to upgrade to the 9GB plan costing £12 a month, as 5G is going to guzzle data.
‘Sky Mobile promises to offer 5G in 50 UK destinations by the summer, which will help encourage users to switch to the new technology.
‘Mobile phone users have taken time to warm to 5G, but the fifth-generation technology is slowly starting to build to a critical mass that could draw in the crowds.’