NIC: government is key to 4G and 5G
Written by: Philip Mason | Published:

The National Infrastructure Commission has recommended the creation of a digital champion – alongside a dedicated government minister – to drive the rollout of 4G and 5G coverage and implementation in the UK. Britain is currently 54th in the world for LTE-enabled mobile broadband, according to a report issued this week by the body.

A key statistic highlighted in the document is that users can currently only access 4G 53 per cent of the time, due to "too many digital deserts and partial not-spots", even in city centres.

Other recommendations made by the commission include the development of a "meaningful" set of metrics to represent the coverage "people actually receive", facilitated by Ofcom and government. This would be to determine something which the organisation is referring to as a mobile universal service obligation, relating to essential functions such as text, talk and data. This should be in place no later than 2025.

The report identifies the priorities for ensuring the UK is ready for 5G. These include key rail routes, a plan for which should be ready by next year, as well as major roads.

The report says that Local authorities and LEPs should work with network providers to enable the deployment of small cells in city centres.

Speaking of the report, chair of the National Infrastructure Commission Lord Adonis (pictured right) said: “Our 4G network is worse than Romania and Albania, Panama and Peru. That isn’t just frustrating, it is increasingly holding British business back, as more and more of our economy requires a connected workforce.”

He continued: “5G offers us a chance to start again and get ahead. If government acts now we can ensure our major transport networks and urban centres are ready in time to give British industry every chance to lead the world in exploiting its applications.”

The report comes after chancellor Philip Hammond’s pledge of £1 billion in this year’s Autumn statement, to help the development of 5G in the UK.

Photo of Lord Adonis courtesy of the National Archives, licensed under the Open Government Licence v3.0.

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