UK Government must take responsibility for 5G mobile readiness

Written by Jenni Davidson on 16 December 2016 in News

A report by the National Infrastructure Commission calls for mobile connectivity along road and routes ready for 5G

5G - Image credit: Fotolia

Government must play a key role in ensuring that there is access to 5G and mobile connections in the UK, according to a report from the UK’s National Infrastructure Commission published this week.

The UK is currently 54th in the world for 4G access, behind countries including Romania, Albania, Panama and Peru, with the typical user only able to access 4G 53 per cent of the time.

The report also criticises the number of ‘not spots’ in the UK, areas where there is only partial connectivity or no mobile connection at all.


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In March 2016, the National Infrastructure Commission was asked to consider what the UK needs to do to become a world leader in 5G and to ensure that the UK can take early advantage of the potential of 5G services.

It recommends a universal service obligation for mobile, with a dedicated cabinet minister to drive change.

Government and Ofcom should develop a meaningful set of metrics that represent the coverage people actually receive and use these to determine a mobile universal service obligation no later than 2025, it says.

It also calls for mobile infrastructure to be in place along motorway and rail networks by 2025, as well as in town and city centres.

In addition, by the end of 2017 the UK Government and Ofcom must review the existing regulatory regime for the telecoms market.

Releasing the report, chair of the National Infrastructure Commission Lord Adonis said: “5G is the future – ultra-fast, and ultra-reliable it has the potential to change our lives and our economy in ways we cannot even imagine today.

“But the UK is currently languishing in the digital slow lane.”

He added: “Our roads and railways can feel like digital deserts and even our city centres are plagued by not spots where connectivity is impossible.

“That isn’t just frustrating, it is increasingly holding British business back as more and more of our economy requires a connected workforce.”

Adonis suggested the arrival of 5G offers the country a chance to start again and get ahead.

“If government acts now we can ensure our major transport networks and urban centres are 5G ready in time to give British industry every chance to lead the world in exploiting its applications,” he said.

“But none of this will matter unless we bring our mobile network up to speed. The existing system does not provide the level of coverage we will need in our connected future.

“We need a new universal service obligation which ensures that the mobile essentials – like text, talk and data – are available to us wherever we need them.

“From connected vehicles to the internet of things, 5G will support a whole new way of communicating and doing business. The UK must not be left behind.”

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