UK unveils £150m telecoms investment plans

UK unveils £150m telecoms investment plans

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The UK government has announced an investment package worth up to £150 million to boost digital connectivity across the country.

The investment will bolster telecoms as one of the five critical technologies identified in its Science and Technology Framework.

As part of the new Wireless Infrastructure Strategy, the government has set out its ambition to blanket the country with fast, reliable wireless coverage. This includes all areas covered by 5G standalone (SA) by 2030.

Michelle Donelan, the UK’s technology secretary said: “Our Wireless Infrastructure Strategy sets out our plan to ensure everyone, no matter where they live, can reap the benefits of improved connectivity.

“We are doing this by ensuring all populated areas in the UK will be served by what I call ‘5G-plus’ technology by 2030.

“We are also committing £8m to provide satellite connectivity for our most remote communities so that no one is left behind.”

In addition to this, around £40 million will be set aside to establish eight to ten 5G Innovation Regions across the UK to enable local authorities to unlock 5G opportunities.

Developing 6G 

The government also revealed its mission to develop 6G moving forward.

This includes a commitment of up to £100 million of funding to shape and drive early-stage 6G research into 6G and influence global standards-setting.

Support for early-stage research will be complimented by funding for application-focused challenges, supporting companies to accelerate innovative market solutions.

As part of a fully-fledged 6G strategy, the government will ensure that the next generation of mobile connectivity meets the needs of people and businesses across the UK, it said in a release.

Telco response

The investment was welcomed by Jo Bertram, managing director of business and wholesale at Virgin Media O2 Business.

“The world of business is becoming increasingly connected – whether you’re a global enterprise or a smaller business focused on conquering a local market, access to 5G and broadband networks are now vital for success,” Bertram said.

She added that 5G has much to offer on an individual business level and to the UK economy, providing better conditions for organisations of every size and sector to adopt or scale their use.

“Therefore, it is promising to see the UK government place greater emphasis on 5G, with the announced £40 million 5G innovation fund.

“Next steps for the Strategy are for it to be implemented through a clear action plan and we are keen to play our part to ensure that practical steps are taken to meet the set ambitions and objectives.”

Tom Bennett, CTO at Freshwave said: “We welcome the publication of the Government’s Wireless Infrastructure Strategy, which acknowledges the crucial role neutral hosts play in delivering advanced wireless connectivity.

"Customer demands for services enabled by 5G technology means our industry needs far greater mobile site density, and the shared infrastructure offered by neutral hosts allows us to get this done effectively. This not only reduces installation costs for providers but helps minimise street clutter and street works in the community. This will only increase in importance as smart cities evolve.

“It’s good to see mobile private networks featuring in the Government’s strategy, as they will provide huge benefits to both private and public sector organisations. They not only improve productivity and safety in environments like ports and factories, but they open up exciting new use cases in health and social care settings.

“Digital connectivity will continue to play a central role in society and Freshwave are proud to collaborate with all our partners across the telecoms ecosystem to bring this connectivity to wherever it’s needed.” 

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