Successive generations of mobile technology have helped to fundamentally change consumer and business behaviour, increasing the benefits derived from being online and, therefore, driving up the demand for data. As a result, people now live in a mobile-first world.
5G, the next upgrade in mobile technology, won’t only be faster than 4G, it is expected to also be more reliable, use less energy, be responsive enough to support self-driving cars, and it will enable thousands of sensors to connect at the same location.
In short, it’s less about faster smartphones and more about a smarter future where almost everyone and everything is connectable.
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5G has the potential to be truly transformative – for consumers and for business. The UK Government has set out a bold ambition to be a 5G leader, and has made a good start but the momentum must be maintained.
“5G is an excellent opportunity for the UK to show its strength in research, development and industrialisation,” commentedTony Lavender, CEO, Plum Consulting London LLP. “Also to show how Government can work with industry and others to drive forward mobile technology and the broader solutions that will make more advanced mobile standards a reality.”
“There are still many non-technology focused questions to address in addition to the technological innovation that 5G needs. Service ecosystem development for horizontal and industry vertical applications and the imperative of creating conditions for viable business cases to flourish are two key areas to address hand in hand with technology development.”
“A unique cooperation across both public and private sectors will be required to achieve these ambitious goals.”
A report from techUK details three areas requiring attention to make the UK does, in fact, achieve these goals.
There must be greater focus on extending mobile coverage. 5G on its own won’t improve mobile coverage. Today’s patchy coverage of major road and rail corridors must be addressed as a priority.
>See also: UK government pledge: superfast 5G mobile networks
Ensuring 5G is quickly, and widely, available across the UK will require more collaboration between operators – unfettered competition would reduce the net benefits to UK plc.
There also must be greater co-operation and consistency of approach between Central and Local Government. Currently, the process of deploying transmitters in city centres is protracted and fragmented.
Spectrum is the lifeblood of all mobile technologies. Ofcom now needs to build on its sterling work in Europe identifying suitable spectrum, and move quickly to get spectrum into the hands of industry, where the current means of award and licensing may no longer be ideal.
But for 5G to deliver on its promises will require considerable investment – a challenge in the current climate.
>See also: The role of 5G in post-Brexit Britain
Highlighting the importance of 5G leadership Julian David, CEO of techUK, said: “The UK was slow to get 4G spectrum into the hands of industry, and the planning and approvals process further delayed the UK reaping the benefits of 4G. I am delighted that the UK Government has no intention of repeating that mistake with 5G. The UK has a real opportunity to become a 5G leader and Europe’s showcase for the applications and services enabled by 5G.”
“techUK strongly supports the UK Government’s focus on 5G, and the considerable effort Ofcom has put into identifying suitable spectrum which could be made available quickly, but to become a 5G leader, the UK needs to do even more. Specifically, we need to see a much more coordinated approach to deploying – and sharing – infrastructure, and a focus on connectivity in major transport corridors. I am delighted to say that techUK already has initiatives underway, bringing together industry and public sector, to assist in policy development in these key areas.”