U.K. Technology Secretary Michelle Donelan laid out plans and investment commitments to boost digital connectivity and put the U.K. at the forefront of future telecom technologies including the next evolution of 5G and 6G, EE News reported.
The new Wireless Infrastructure Strategy (WIS) offers an investment package worth about $185 million, with almost $125 million to put the U.K. at the forefront of wireless research, and $50 million to boost the expansion of standalone 5G to all populated areas by 2030. Currently, 77 percent of the U.K. population already has access to basic 5G from at least one mobile network operator.
The WIS announcement also commits $10 million to delivering high-speed broadband for roughly 35,000 of the U.K.’s most remote locations. Under WIS, homes and businesses in remote areas that are unable to be connected to gigabit-capable broadband will be given money to link them to low earth orbit satellites, providing them with speedier broadband connections than what is currently available. The U.K. is likely to reach 75 percent gigabit broadband coverage sometime in April. That figure is up from just 6 percent in 2019, and is on track to deliver 99 percent coverage by 2030.
To help the mass adoption of 5G across the country, the WIS establishes a clear pro-investment framework for MNOs by driving down deployment costs and improving demand. The government also acknowledged that there is no ‘magic number’ of MNOs that should be operating in the country. The Competition and Markets Authority will decide on all carrier consolidations such the one being contemplated between Vodafone and Three UK, Inside Towers reported.
The government has also announced a new long-term national mission to ensure that the U.K. is at the forefront of 6G development and adoption. It has committed nearly $125 million of funding initially to define and drive early-stage research into 6G and influence global standards-setting. More importantly, the U.K. says it will work closely with allies to deliver this mission.