The UK Government has unveiled a plan to deliver standalone 5G (5G-plus) availability in all populated areas of the country by 2030 as part of its latest digital strategy. The announcement is earmarked for up to £150 million in investment in efforts to improve current connectivity and transition to the next eras of connectivity.
Dubbed the Wireless Infrastructure Strategy, the fund will allocate £100 million into future research of 6G and connectivity technologies; £40 million to boosting the 5G take up, and the remaining £8 million to create a satellite connectivity programme to connect remote homes and businesses.
Announcing the package earlier this week (11th April), Technology Secretary Michelle Donelan said: “Our Wireless Infrastructure Strategy sets out our plan to ensure everyone, no matter where they live, can reap the benefits of improved connectivity.”
These aims to boost digital connectivity with high-speed broadband through the next stage of 5G connection, that is 5G connectivity without relying on 4G LTE for data transfer and signalling, will boost productivity by bringing those from poorly connected areas further into the economy and improve the compatibility of potential economic boosting innovations like driverless vehicles and smart cities.
This announcement comes off the back of criticisms that the government would fail to meet its previous promise for 85% nation-wide coverage of gigabit-capable broadband by 2025. The Wireless Infrastructure Strategy concedes the UK has yet to even achieve 100% 4G connectivity.
“It is fantastic to see the government recognising the importance of connectivity for all, which in the long run will benefit the whole nation,
.” COO for the Digital Poverty Alliance Elizabeth Anderson said. “With millions of people in the UK cut off from the online world, it should no longer be the case that individuals miss out on opportunities because they cannot get access to connection.”
The new plan forms part of the government’s push to make the UK “the next Silicon Valley”. Since Rishi Sunak became Prime Minister, the government has published the International Technology Strategy and the National Quantum Strategy alongside the creation of a new Department for Science and Technology. These decisions have also come with allocation of funds to implement policy, with plans to create 12 new tech hubs that will see £1 billion in extra cash being allocated and £900 million to build a new supercomputer. However, the current state of the UK tech scene remains tentative as chipmakers struggle to stay competitive in the UK and government funded organisations like Tech Nation – that incubated a number of unicorn startups – have ceased operations.
“While it is great to see the government investing in the telecoms industry and wireless connectivity, a continuous and universal push to achieve the goals this government plan, and our organisation, set out to achieve, is necessary,
.” Anderson concluded.
The UK is due to hit 75% gigabit broadband coverage this month, up from just 6% in 2019, and is now on track to deliver 99% by 2030.
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