Poland's Play plans 5G roll-out in Gdynia in race to offer first services

WARSAW (Reuters) - Polish mobile operator Play Communications PLY.WA is planning to roll out a 5G network in the northern city of Gdynia, its chief executive said, as the country's telcoms providers rush to be the first to offer commercial next generation services.

Mobile internet on 5G networks is expected to offer data speeds up to 50 or 100 times faster than current 4G networks and help expand connectivity.

“What we are announcing today is definitely the opening of the first 5G city in Poland and when I say 5G city it’s because this is not a test,” Jean-Marc Harion told reporters on Tuesday.

Rival Cyfrowy Polsat CPS.WA said on Friday its Polkomtel unit was beginning construction of the first 5G network in Poland, and aimed to start serving seven cities in the first quarter.

Although Play has already put equipment in place, Harion said the company was still waiting for authorisation from the Office of Electronic Communication (UKE) to proceed.

“Technically, we’re waiting for UKE to provide us with the authorisation to operate spectrum commercially, but this a real life roll-out of 5G. The entire city is covered.”

The roll-out of 5G has proved controversial with the United States pressing its allies not to use equipment from Chinese telecoms firm Huawei [HWT.UL], citing concerns Beijing could use the equipment for spying.

Harion said Play's 5G network in Gdynia would be based on Huawei HWT.UL equipment, while Cyfrowy Polsat will use technology from Nokia NOKIA.HE and Ericsson ERICb.ST.

Huawei has repeatedly denied the allegations and industry players have warned that excluding Huawei could slow down the implementation of 5G and make it more expensive.

Play also said on Tuesday that it planned to build another 800 base stations in 2020, bringing its total to 8700.

Play also competes in Poland with Orange Polska OPL.WA and T-Mobile, a unit of Deutsche Telekom DTEGn.DE.

Reporting by Anna Koper, writing by Alan Charlish; Editing by Kirsten Donovan