UK government sets out future telecoms vision, calling it a top priority

Minister Michelle Donelan

Minister Michelle Donelan

The UK’s Department for Science, Innovation & Technology has unveiled a blueprint for developing the country’s telecoms sector. It said “substantial investments” in telecoms and a new Wireless Infrastructure Strategy would “put the UK at the forefront of science and technology, harnessing enterprise and innovation and driving growth”.

Headlining a “package of measures”, the Wireless Infrastructure Strategy sets out the government’s “commitment to extending 4G coverage to 95% of the population, deliver standalone 5G to all populated areas in the UK by 2030, and invest £40 million to drive take up of innovative 5G-enabled services for businesses and the public sector.” It also sets out a 6G strategy to develop the UK’s strengths in future telecoms.

The government aims to remove “practical barriers to the deployment of 5G infrastructure”, with DSIT Secretary of State Michelle Donelan saying 5G “will be the cornerstone of our digital economy. Widespread adoption of 5G could see £159 billion in productivity benefits by 2035. And it is exactly the kind of opportunity which the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology was created to seize.”

Among several headlines within the new strategy, the government announced £40 million of new funding “to establish eight to 10 5G Innovation Regions across the UK. This will enable regions and local authorities to unlock opportunities using advanced wireless connectivity, tailored to each area’s specific needs and strengths.”

Looking further out, the government plans to invest “up to £100 million in a new future telecoms mission” – with focus on a 6G Strategy. The government said future telecoms is one of five priority technologies in its goal to be “a science superpower by 2030”.

The government also announced £8 million capital grants for satellite connectivity and a “Rural 10 point plan. The £5 billion Project Gigabit will deliver future proof broadband to rural areas, with £1 billion already made available. In very hard to reach areas, where it will be uneconomic to deliver gigabit broadband, the government will work with industry to ensure that these premises get improved broadband, where required.”

Among other headlines, the government set out a new strategic vision for spectrum policy. “Maximising its usage across the public and private sector is critical to delivering our mission to position the UK at the forefront of technological advancement. Priority actions include working with Ofcom to enhance shared use of spectrum, reviewing our use of market mechanisms to support a strong investment environment and establishing a framework to improve access to public sector spectrum.”

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