THE UK’s second-biggest mobile phone operator O2 has said it will bring 5G to Bournemouth this year.

The company had already announced a partnership to share masts with Vodafone, which plans to include Bournemouth in the second phase of its own 5G rollout, starting later this year.

O2 said it would launch its 5G network in October, prioritising areas where customers would benefit most.

Bournemouth is among 20 towns and cities to join the network this year, while Southampton will be among another 30 to have 5G by the summer of 2020.

O2 said it was prioritising key business areas and entertainment and sports venues. Customers on O2’s custom plans will be able to upgrade to a 5G handset when they choose.

Samsung’s 5G-ready Galaxy S10 phone will be available from August 8, with the Xiaomi Mix 3 coming later that month.

More devices will be added in time for the launch.

Mark Evans, chief executive of O2’s parent company Telefónica UK, said: “5G is going to be a game changer for our country.

“Whether it’s for people or businesses, the power of this next-generation network is going to unlock a world of possibilities for our economy and society.

“As we switch on our network across the country, our intelligence-led roll-out prioritises the key areas in towns and cities first – the places where our customers need, and will use, 5G the most.

“We’re also giving our customers maximum flexibility with our industry-leading custom plans, letting people adopt 5G at a time that’s right for them.”

O2 has also pledged to continue upgrading its 4G network.

Research by YouGov suggested that only 11 per cent of consumers thought network operators should prioritise the rollout of 5G, while 31 per cent would prefer improved 4G and fair tariffs to be more of a priority.

Several dozen campaigners have urged the new Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council to carry out an assessment of the potential health impact of 5G technology.

The chairman of the council’s overview and scrutiny board, Cllr Philip Broadhead, has asked people to bring evidence to a September meeting.

He said: “I have been struck by the number of people who have reached out with concerns over this emerging technology.

“By giving those with an interest in this field a forum to bring evidence to us, it will enable the board to look in real detail at the balance between the possible health risks along with the economic impacts both for and against the rollout.”

However, the government says that exposure to radio waves “is expected to remain low”. The International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection and the World Health Organization have also said there are no known harmful effects from the low level of radio waves involved.