The UK government has published an update to its 5G strategy, first published at the Spring Budget 2017, which outlines its progress to date and the next phase of work in preparing the UK for 5G.
In October, the UK government launched a £25 million competition to fund a number of 5G test beds, where organizations could try out “new and innovative use cases for 5G in order to help identify new revenue steams and business models for all parts of the supply chain.”
The 5G Testbeds and Trials Programme, a key element of ‘Phase 1’ of the government’s strategy, is also investing £16 million in the 5GUK project during 2017/18. This is a collaborative project between the 5G Innovation Centre at the University of Surrey, King’s College London (KCL) and the University of Bristol. Each university brings specialist knowledge and capability to the project. Bristol University has expertise in smart cities and smart campus test beds, while KCL has a focus on pioneering 5G co-design approaches with various industries including smart cities and smart transport.
Phase 2 begins
Now, the government has announced that ‘Phase 2’ programme activity will include funding for the first large scale projects. As part of the project, it is launching a consultation 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 timescales of delivery, the amount of funding contribution and the method by which funding should be allocated.
“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,” said digital minister Matt Hancock.
The Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) is also launching a call for evidence to understand what makes investing in fibre and 5G attractive, and what government could do to support this.
Read more: Wait for 5G? The IoT needn’t hold its breath
A big part of this attraction will undoubtedly focus on the Internet of Things (IoT). With enhanced mobile broadband via 5G, the government included a diagram in its 23-page document that referred to what the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) calls ‘ultra-reliable and low latency communications’ (URLLC).
This includes download speeds of gigabytes in a second, and support for: 3D video and ultra-high-definition screens, the use of cloud services for both work and gaming, augmented reality, industry automation, voice, mission-critical applications and self-driving cars.
5G would also support smart homes and buildings, and smart cities – or what ITU calls ‘massive machine-type communications’ (MMTC).