5G part of a Modern Global Britain says Prime Minister Theresa May
The Prime Minister Theresa May has outlined in a press release ahead of her first regional Cabinet meeting a new Modern Industrial Strategy with a focus on ensuring that the UK does not fall behind as a global power.
"The green paper also sets out technologies where Britain has strengths in research and development which could be supported through the government’s new Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, including: smart energy technologies; robotics and artificial intelligence and 5G mobile network technology. This fund is part of £4.7 billion of additional R&D funding announced by the Prime Minister in November, a bigger increase than in any parliament since 1979.
The approach outlined today builds on what exists already in sectors like automotive and aerospace – with individual firms taking the initiative to organise their sectors, backed by institutions or organisations which enable vital partnership on research and development throughout the supply chain.
In aerospace, close collaboration between government and industry including through the Aerospace Growth Partnership has been instrumental in creating one of the world’s best business environments for advanced engineering, design and manufacture - with thousands of people employed in high-skilled jobs."The Rt Hon Theresa May MP
Industry once upon a time was massive static steam engines powering mills and driving the industrial revolution, but now in the 21st century things are very different and industry covers everything from large factories right down to a single laptop operation working from home. This range of what is industry is the key to success, and follows a long tradition of cottage industry in the UK.
Broadband is not mentioned in the release, but 5G does get in on the act via the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund and the £4.7 billion of R&D funding (this is not new money, this funding was on the table back in Autumn 2016 in the last statement by the Chancellor.
5G is surrounded by a lot of hype and some of this is research departments announcing milestones as they compete for funding, but if 5G can deliver the better speeds, a wider range of frequencies for use (very difficult given the existence of 3G/4G in the spectrum already), better base station performance in terms of the number of devices that can access the network at once then it will live up to some of the hype. 5G is important as it should offer good coverage with low data rates using at the lower frequencies and for urban areas a dense overlay of small cells should mean an end to now data connectivity at busy times of the day.
Fixed line broadband and fibre to the premises has already seen a boost with the five years business rates relief for new networks, but for companies already paying these business rates on fibre already deployed they are looking at significantly increase rate-able values so while there is a carrot for new entrants it is balanced by a stick for those firms with large metro fibre networks and backbones.
We would say that if we want a truly Modern Industrial Strategy for the UK, it should outline an ambition to deliver near universal fibre to the premises coverage within a 15 to 20 year period, with a clear source of funding and priorities set so that it delivers to existing business parks and all new build premises first.