• An investment package of around £150 million was unveiled, with up to £100 million to put the UK at the forefront of future research, and £40 million to boost 5G take-up
  • Ambition to deliver standalone 5G to all populated areas by 2030 to support the next generation of innovation
  • A further £8m to connect remote homes and businesses with a pioneering satellite connectivity program ensuring no community is left behind
  • A new wireless infrastructure strategy will make economic growth a priority for the Prime Minister

New plans and investment to boost digital connectivity and put the UK at the forefront of future telecoms technologies have been unveiled by Technology Secretary Michelle Donnellan today (Tuesday 11 April) – unlocking growth, innovation and potential across the country.

As part of a new wireless infrastructure strategy, the government plans to provide all populated areas with ‘standalone’ 5G (as some companies call it. 5G-plus) by 2030. 77% of the population already has access to basic 5G from one provider.

This next iteration of 5G coverage across the country will unlock new technologies that will transform the way we live and conduct business, as the connectivity we depend on evolves significantly and becomes more woven into all of our lives. From driverless vehicles, robots and drones on the factory floor to making our cities smarter, cleaner and less congested; Innovation is set to supercharge.

Today’s announcement commits £8m to deliver high-speed broadband to up to 35,000 of the UK’s most remote properties. Under the new plan, homes and businesses in remote areas without access to gigabit-capable broadband will be funded to connect to satellites orbiting the globe, giving them up to ten times the broadband connection. Faster than what is currently available to them.

In addition, the £40 million 5G Innovation Fund will promote investment and adoption of 5G by businesses and public services, helping them unlock opportunities to use advanced wireless connectivity, generate value, innovate and grow at a local level.

To facilitate widespread adoption of 5G across the country, the strategy lays out a clear framework for mobile network operators to be investment-friendly by reducing deployment costs and improving demand. The government has also confirmed that there is no ‘magic number’ for mobile operators, while all decisions on integration are for the Competition and Markets Authority.

The UK will reach 75% gigabit broadband coverage this month, up from just 6% in 2019, and is on track to deliver 99% by 2030.

Technology Secretary Michelle Donnellan said:

Our wireless infrastructure strategy sets out our plan to ensure that everyone, wherever they are, can benefit from improved connectivity. We will ensure that all populated areas of the UK are served by ‘5G-plus’ technology by 2030. We are committing £8m to provide satellite connectivity for our most remote communities so that no one is left behind. .

We are also supporting the UK’s long-term economic growth with £40m of funding to encourage innovative 5G investment in the private and public sector. It will help industries transform the way we communicate, work and do business at a time when they are at the cusp of significant evolution.

This package of measures turbocharges our progress towards becoming a science and technology superpower with substantial initial investment in the future of telecom. We want to ensure that 6G is developed to meet the needs of people and businesses across the UK and strengthen our international competitiveness across the economy.

Future Telecommunications Mission

The Government has announced a new long-term national mission to ensure the UK is at the forefront of both adopting and developing 6G, the future of digital connectivity. As part of a fully-fledged 6G strategy, the Government will ensure that the next generation of mobile connectivity meets the needs of people and businesses across the UK.

The Government has committed to funding up to £100 million initially to help shape early-stage research into 6G and influence global standard-setting. The UK will work closely with allies to deliver this mission – ensuring we are influential in shaping the global landscape, embedding our values ​​in future telecoms technology and protecting our security interests. It will support the UK’s drive to become a science superpower as set out in the Science and Technology Framework.

Accelerating broadband rollout

We are putting forward new plans to accelerate the deployment of fast internet connections by working with local authorities and the telecoms industry to further test the use of flexible permits for road construction to connect fiber to many areas.

Spectrum statement

Spectrum is the invisible electromagnetic waves that enable all wireless technologies, from our mobile phones, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth devices to aircraft navigation and satellite applications, among many other uses. Spectrum-dependent devices and services now underpin almost every aspect of our economic and social lives.

As spectrum becomes more critical to UK strategic priorities – from communications and broadcasting to space and defense – we have also set out the government’s priorities in a new spectrum statement.

This means better connectivity for people across the UK and better access to spectrum to support new enterprise applications that will drive economic growth, productivity and improve tomorrow’s public services.

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