Commission calls for government to act now on 5G networks

The National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) has published its final report into 5G and telecommunication technology, in which it calls for the government to take immediate action to ensure that the country is ready for the implementation of 5G mobile networks.

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Commenting on the report, Chair of the NIC, 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.

‘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.’

The report revealed that the UK is 54th in the world for 4G coverage, with users only being able to access 4G half of the time. It also suggested that 4G in the UK is worse than the 4G networks in Romania and Peru.

The NIC argues that the government and Ofcom must ensure that essential outdoor mobile services are available throughout the country, and in particular on rail networks and motorways. It also recommends that local authorities should work together and with Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) to develop coordinated local mobile connectivity delivery plans.

A spokesperson for the Treasury told the BBC that the Chancellor had already committed £1 billion to support 5G trials, as well as fibre broadband.

The spokesperson said: ‘We want the UK to become a world leader in 5G, which is why we asked NIC to carry out this study. We will consider their recommendations carefully and respond at Budget 2017.’

The full report, called ‘Connected Future’ can be found here: www.gov.uk/government/publications/connected-future.

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