Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
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The next steps towards the 5G Future

The positioning of the UK as a world leader in the development and deployment of 5G technology has received another boost as the government sets out the next steps of its ambitious plans.

Government yesterday published an update to its 5G strategy, first published at Spring Budget 2017, which outlines our progress to date in delivering against the recommendations of the strategy. It also details the next phase of work aimed at preparing the UK for a 5G future including the steps that the government will take to support investment, and the ongoing programme of 5G Testbeds and Trials.

In October, the 5G Testbeds and Trials Programme launched a £25 million competition to fund an initial series of testbeds and trials. This “Phase 1” competition is focusing on new and innovative use cases for 5G in order to help identify new revenue streams and business models for all parts of the supply chain. At Budget in November, we announced specific funding for 5G projects, and government yesterday announced that “Phase 2” programme activity will include funding for the first large scale projects.

As part of this, the government has launched a call for views on the appropriate scale and scope of deployment pilots that will help to establish the conditions under which 5G can be deployed in a timely way and help foster the development of 5G in the UK. This includes the timescales over which they should be delivered, the amount of funding contribution which would be appropriate, and the method by which funding should be allocated.

Minister for Digital, Matt Hancock said:

We want the UK to be a global leader in 5G so that we can take early advantage of the benefits that this new technology offers. The steps we are taking now are all part of our commitment to realising the potential of 5G ,and will help to create a world-leading digital economy that works for everyone.

And while the Phase 1 and Phase 2 projects will shortly be underway, it’s important for the government to create the right environment for long-term investment in 5G and other technologies like full fibre broadband .

DCMS is therefore also launching a call for evidence to understand what makes investing in fibre and 5G attractive, and what government could do to support this. The responses will inform the Future Telecoms Infrastructure Review which was announced last month as part of the Industrial Strategy, which set out the need to do more to increase our productivity and to make the most of our untapped potential right across the nation.

Our aim is to be the world’s most innovative economy, and as part of this, the UK needs an integrated, long-term strategy for fixed and mobile networks and this review will determine what conditions will encourage the long term investment needed to secure world-class digital connectivity, that is seamless, reliable, long-lasting and also widely available and affordable to UK businesses and consumers.

Also announced yesterday were the chosen partners for running the 5G innovation Network. A consortium led by CW, in partnership with the Knowledge Transfer Network and TM Forum, have been selected to provide a significant boost to the development of the UK’s 5G ecosystem, whilst contributing to increased inward investment and UK leadership. The Network will:

  • Facilitate the coordination and engagement of organisations working on 5G activities in the UK
  • Create and maintain an accessible and up to date source of information about 5G activities for industry and
  • Establish a global marketing brand as part of a strategy to encourage inward investment and participation in 5G activities in the UK.

Notes to Editors

  1. The Terms of Reference for the Future Telecoms Infrastructure Review (FTIR) are available online. The FTIR call for evidence outlines a number of different market and policy models, and we are particularly keen to hear how these could generate effective outcomes for consumers in the next decade and beyond, and the pros and cons of these models.
  2. The government has committed over £1 billion from the National Productivity Investment Fund to support the next generation of digital infrastructure in the UK including through the delivery of two programmes: the Local Full Fibre Networks (“LFFN”) Programme and the 5G Testbeds and Trials Programme. These programmes aim to stimulate investment in next generation fibre and wireless networks.
  3. 5G has the potential to transform communications and is likely to lead to new business models and innovation in service provision. Given the potential size of the global 5G prize - a recent report estimated 5G will enable USD$12.3 trillion of global economic output in 2035 - we need to ensure that the UK is at the forefront of 5G developments, so that we can maximise the potential benefits to our economy and citizens.
  4. The business case for 5G is not just about the technology. It’s about discovering new business models. With 4G, the primary use case is consumer mobile services. 5G will be the first network with multiple use cases, serving multiple needs. The Phase 1 competition will focus on new and innovative use cases for 5G in order to help identify new revenue streams and business models for all parts of the supply chain.


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