Mobile UK report urges government to further support 5G rollouts

The report highlighted a $31.2 billion investment gap, integral to the roll out of 5G Standalone (SA) networks

The ambition of the U.K. government to reach widespread adoption of 5G technology at a national level is at risk of being missed if actions outlined in the Wireless Infrastructure Strategy (WIS), are not followed through, according to a recent report commissioned by Mobile UK.

The new report, dubbed ‘Rebalancing Act: Unlocking the Potential of the U.K.’s Mobile Industry’, identifies that despite ongoing industry investment in infrastructure at around £2 billion ($2.34 billion) per annum, urgent change in the investment environment is required in order to achieve 5G targets.

The report also highlighted a £25 billion investment gap, integral to the roll out of 5G Standalone (SA) networks. If this investment gap is not plugged the U.K. will struggle to reap the benefit of widespread adoption of 5G, according to the report.

Hamish MacLeod, CEO of Mobile UK, said: “It’s clear the industry is delivering strong value through the generation of £5 return to the wider economy for every £1 invested by the operators, and so enabling a positive investment environment for the sector must be the clear priority of government. As a country we are not making enough progress to meet the objectives of the Wireless Infrastructure Strategy which acknowledges the power of mobile technology and the ambition to be a leader in 5G.”

The executive also highlighted that reductions in spectrum license fees, as well as reforms in traffic management regulations and incentives for new mobile infrastructure would foster investment in the 5G field. “In addition, adequately funding the planning system and appointing digital champions in local authorities would help streamline network rollout and get the UK back on track to achieve its targets,” MacLeod added.

The report made a number of recommendations such as exploring further policy actions designed to remove barriers to network rollout and implementing fiscal measures that will have a direct and immediate impact on improving mobile operators’ investment outlook.

In November 2023, Vodafone had stated that the difference between slow and accelerated 5G rollout could represent an additional $9.27 billion to the U.K. economy.

5G Standalone (5G SA) coverage in all populated areas across the U.K. by 2030 is a core ambition of the U.K. government’s wireless infrastructure strategy. However, according to economic modeling commissioned by Vodafone UK and conducted by WPI Economics, there is a significant difference between slow and rapid rollout of 5G SA.

The research underlines the importance of the combined Vodafone/Three UK network which will reach more than 99% population coverage with a 5G SA network by 2034, and over 95% population coverage by 2030 for nationwide coverage of 5G Standalone in all populated areas by 2030.

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