In March 2017 the UK Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) published its 5G Strategy as part of the UK Government’s Digital Strategy. This included plans to overhaul the Electronic Communications Code (ECC) and clear new spectrum to accelerate mobile deployments. The Government also committed to create a UK 5G Innovation Network (5GIN) to operate alongside a national programme of 5G testbeds and trials. The strategy included a series of actions covering funding, regulations, coverage and capacity, 5G security, spectrum and standards. So, one year on, how are the plans progressing?
In short, so far so good. DCMS published its 5G Testbeds & Trials Programme in October 2017. This confirmed funding of £16 million for the 5GUK project, to create three interconnected 5G test networks at the University of Surrey 5GIC (which iWireless is an SME Member of), Kings College London and the University of Bristol. The Programme will facilitate the joining up of start-ups and SMEs with large businesses, academic institutions and the public sector throughout the UK. Phase 1 of the Programme will deliver projects through a competition worth £25 million in total. The Government announced 6 competition winners on 10th March, involving the setting up of testbeds for specific use cases including autonomous vehicles, rural coverage and smart tourism.
The Government’s subsequent Industrial Strategy, published in November 2017, contains a large section on infrastructure with numerous references to 5G, including “Our ambitious 5G Strategy outlines the policies that will put the UK at the forefront of the next generation of mobile technology by creating the conditions for the market to develop and to deploy 5G in a timely and efficient manner”. The document also confirmed the autumn 2017 budget announcement of a further investment of £160 million for the next phase of funding in the 5G Testbeds and Trials Programme.
At the end of 2017 DCMS published an update to its 5G strategy with useful detail on next steps. These include:
- By 2022 to extend mobile coverage to 95% geographic coverage of the UK, and deliver full and uninterrupted mobile phone signal on all major roads
- Explore the viability of a 5G-ready roadside network alongside the UK’s motorways by 2025
- Working with local government to make sites available for the deployment of infrastructure
- Development of meaningful performance metrics for the quality of service experienced by users
- Confirmation that CW (Cambridge Wireless), in partnership with the Knowledge Transfer Network and TM Forum, have been successful in their bid to run the 5GIN
The Government hopes that its commitment to 5G will be more than matched by the private sector, resulting in a significant acceleration in 5G research, development and deployment over the next few years, so that UK industry and consumers can get the maximum benefit from the technology. iWireless is committed to R&D and the development of 5G implementation and upgrade methodologies, ensuring a smooth transition from 3/4G to 5G through trials and its membership of 5GIC and CW, so watch this space for further updates.
We are excited to see the possibilities of 5G being unleashed with the enhanced mobile broadband with download speeds up to 10 Gbps and impressive scale which can handle the explosion of IoT around the corner with ease. Having been heavily involved in the release of 4G from running testbeds testing various antenna frequencies in different environments to rolling it out across the UK, we endeavour to play our part in rolling 5G out in the UK. If you’d like to find out more about 5G and what we can expect from this new technology don’t miss our upcoming TechTalk article by keeping an eye on our News page or follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn. To find out more or if you have any questions regarding this article speak to one of our technical specialists by email on firstname.lastname@example.org or phone us on 01342 305038.