Last week, George Osborne announced the Budget and affirmed his plans for the UK’s digital sector. The Budget sets out aims to develop a 5G strategy in 2017, as well as plans for coverage expansion, infrastructure and mobile masts.
In his report, George Osborne announced his intentions to make the UK a “world leader in 5G” in 2017, based on an assessment by the National Infrastructure Commission. As countries around the world race to become the first to commercialise the 5G network, The Chancellor wants to ensure that the UK is ready to take early advantage of the potential benefits it has to offer.
There are three key points he focuses on:
- 5G strategy and tool
- Broadband Investment Fund
- Coverage expansion and digital infrastructure
At present, UK research into 5G is being pioneered by Surrey University and they have so far taken a strong lead in 5G developments. The budget paper outlines government support into this, as well as into the development of a network-planning tool, which will be trialled in Bournemouth.
Whilst 5G roll out is not expected until 2020, we can be assured that the government intend for the UK to be “5G ready”. At present, there are two views surrounding what 5G will bring. The first is the “hyper connected vision”. This view revolves around the idea that mobile operators will combine pre-existing technologies to create a blend of 2G, 3G, 4G and Wi-Fi, enabling higher coverage, network density and availability. The second view is that 5G will bring next-generation radio access technology with more traditional, specific targets for data rates.
Lee Garrett, Solutions Architect at Westbase Technology, has said that 5G is set to “open many doors to what could be seen as many billions of connected “things”. Some predictions see an explosion of sensor driven applications that will fuel this growth; from measuring environmental data such as air pollution to simple logic states that could simply be actuators turning on and off. It’s clear that the successor of 4G must accommodate many “things” and still deliver superior performance.”
He continued, “The ability to influence decisions through the use of data collected where it has not been possible before could enable 5G to be the next disrupter, benefiting many industries.”
In addition to plans for 5G, the Budget Paper also highlights plans to establish, in partnership with the private sector, a Broadband Investment Fund that will provide financial support to the growth of alternative networks, whilst operating on a commercial basis.
The Chancellor also indicates his plans to expand network coverage and improve digital infrastructure around the UK. An Ultrafast Broadband grant scheme will be put in to place whereby the government will distribute £14.5 million in grants, in order to extend ultrafast broadband coverage in the South West. The report also states his decision to relax planning restrictions around mobile masts in order to improve cellular connectivity. Hubert Da Costa, Vice President, EMEA at Cradlepoint, said that the move was a “good thing for both consumers and businesses”1 as it would be impossible to provide wired connectivity to the whole UK. This has been seen as a good move by the tech industry as more, taller masts will mean greater and stronger connectivity which serves wider areas.
While most of the UK already enjoys the benefits of 4G LTE connectivity, it can only be a good thing to see coverage improved and expanded into more rural areas – allowing all business locations to take advantage of 4G LTE. Delivering high speeds and bandwidth, 4G LTE today is able to match and, in some cases, exceed fixed line performance – and it also provides an increased level of flexibility that is essential to enabling the latest technologies.
“We’re seeing businesses use 4G for a broad range of applications,” said Kelly Bell, Marketing Manager at Westbase Technology, “from in-vehicle networking and connecting the Internet of Things, to delivering rapid site connectivity and branch failover, companies are implementing new business models, improving their operational efficiencies and delivering improved customer service by leveraging LTE networks.”
“With 4G LTE set for improved coverage, and plans for 5G well underway, cellular connectivity will only continue to better enable businesses.”