The National Infrastructure Commission has urged the Government to take action on 5G internet as it revealed that the UK was severely lagging behind other countries in its mobile connectivity.
The Commission found that due to the essential role that mobile connectivity now had to play in the economy, the Government had to play an active role to made the services more widely available.
It made several practical recommendations, including that the Government and the telecoms regulator Ofcom should develop a set of metrics to assess the quality of coverage experienced by consumers in order to develop a Universal Service Obligation for mobile connectivity.
This should be delivered no later than 2025.
In addition, the Commission found that existing UK infrastructure needed to be connected via 5G, with connectivity for rail routes and motorways to be in place by 2025.
The Commission said that towns and cities should be connected by a collaboration between network providers and local authorities to enable deployment of small cells in urban areas.
The report was commissioned in March 2016 to determine the necessary steps to the UK becoming a leader in 5G.
5G is the next generation of cellular connectivity technology that will follow the 4G which is now widely available in modern day smartphones.
The UK’s roll out of 4G technology is still in progress, with the Deloitte Global Mobile Consumer Survey 2016 saying that 4G adoption in the UK reached 54 percent this year.
According to the report, the UK is 54th in the world for 4G connectivity.
In the Autumn Statement in November 2016, Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond pledged £1 billion to invest in next generation internet connectivity.
The investment will support the private sector in rolling out more full-fibre broadband by 2020-21 and support trials of 5G.
“5G is the future – ultra-fast, and ultra-reliable it has the potential to change our lives and our economy in ways we cannot even imagine today. But the UK is currently languishing in the digital slow lane,” said Lord Adonis, Chair of the National Infrastructure Commission.
“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 5G ready in time to give British industry every chance to lead the world in exploiting its applications.
A spokesperson from mobile operator Three said: “One of the main causes of the UK’s poor 4G coverage has been the historic imbalance in mobile airwaves. Ofcom’s proposed spectrum auction rules will only make the situation worse by allowing that imbalance to continue beyond the next auction. We’ll face the same issues with the rollout of 5G with consumers and businesses suffering as a result.”