Vodafone 5G goes live in Sydney

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Vodafone’s long-awaited 5G network is finally going live – albeit in very limited locations.

The telco today (March 5) announced it has switched on its burgeoning 5G service around the Sydney suburb of Parramatta, joining Telstra and Optus in offering live 5G coverage. However, Vodafone customers won’t yet be able to take advantage of the new 5G network, unless using an outright-purchased 5G-capable smartphone on a Vodafone-purchased plan.

If you’re picking up, or receiving, the 5G-capable Samsung Galaxy S20, S20+ or S20 Ultra from Vodafone tomorrow, you may be able to jump on 5G if you’re in the Parramatta area. But you’d be wise to temper your expectations, as coverage is likely to be patchy this early in the game.

Vodafone 5G phone plans

If you’re keen to be the first to try out Vodafone 5G, you can order a 5G-enabled Samsung Galaxy phone on any of Vodafone’s Red Plus postpaid plans. Each plan features unlimited standard talk and text in Australia, a monthly high-speed data inclusion, and unlimited speed-capped data, limited to 1.5Mbps.

Pre-order before tomorrow, and you can also score the 128GB S20+ 5G for the price of the 4G-only model. That’s a saving of $150 over 24 or 36 months, and pre-orders also come with a free pair of Samsung Galaxy Buds+ (valued at $299).

The following table shows all published 128GB Samsung Galaxy S20+ 5G Vodafone plans from Canstar Blue’s database, listed in order of advertised standard cost, lowest to highest, then by data allowance, largest to smallest. Use our comparison tool to see a wider range of plans from other providers. These are products with links to referral partners.

5G international roaming: coming soon

Vodafone’s Parramatta switch-on is only the beginning, as the telco has confirmed it is rolling out 5G to more than 650 sites across Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth, Canberra and the rest of Sydney.

“Throughout 2020 our customers will see us deliver 5G coverage to more areas; with more 5G devices to choose from; while delivering the great value that Vodafone is known for.” said Vodafone CEO Iñaki Berroeta.

“We have more than 650 5G sites in planning, with thousands more on our roadmap over coming years.”

Vodafone has also announced plans to introduce 5G international roaming in selected countries. The telco will introduce a 5G data roaming option to its popular $5 Roaming add-on, which allows customers to use their plan’s talk, text and data allowance in eligible countries for $5 per day.

Although there’s no date set for the launch of Vodafone’s 5G roaming, customers will eventually be able to use the next-generation mobile technology when travelling in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Germany, Spain, and Italy.

While Telstra plans to introduce a $15 per month 5G access fee to lower-tier mobile plans in June, Vodafone insists it won’t be charging any existing customers extra for 5G services. Currently, 5G network use is free on all eligible Telstra and Optus plans, with only Telstra confirming it will eventually charge customers more for the privilege.

“When 5G arrives to our customers with 5G devices, they will get 5G network access at no extra charge,” said Mr. Berroeta.

Vodafone and TPG merger to go ahead

In related Vodafone news, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has announced that it will not appeal the Federal Court’s decision to allow a proposed Vodafone-TPG merger.

ACCC Chairman Rod Sims says that, although the Commission still disagrees with the ruling, there appears to be no grounds for appeal.

“The ACCC remains disappointed by this outcome, which has closed the door on what we consider was a once in a generation chance for increased competition in the highly concentrated mobile telecommunications market,” said Mr. Sims.

“Despite this outcome, we will continue to oppose mergers that we believe will substantially lessen competition, because it’s our job to protect competition to the benefit of Australian consumers.”

With no more major roadblocks in the way, TPG and Vodafone now have a clear path to complete their merger mid-2020, assuming shareholder approval. What that means for each telco’s mobile and broadband customer base remains to be seen, although plans and products are likely to remain unchanged for now.

Image: Look Studio/Shutterstock

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