April 17, 2023
The Wireless Infrastructure Strategy essentially sets out a new policy framework to drive deployment and adoption of 5G and advanced wireless connectivity, as well as the Government’s 6G strategy for the UK.
The Government says that the policy framework affirms its “unwavering commitment to extending 4G coverage to 95% of the population, deliver high quality 5G to all populated areas in the UK by 2030, and investing £40 million to drive take up of innovative 5G-enabled services for businesses and the public sector”. It also sets out a comprehensive 6G strategy to “harness and develop the UK’s strengths in future telecoms, and to ensure that the UK can influence and benefit from the development of 6G in a way that meets the UK’s future connectivity needs”.
Key policies set out in the strategy include:
- a new ambition of nationwide coverage of standalone 5G to all populated areas by 2030;
- fixing coverage reporting, including on trains;
- £40 million new funding to establish 5G Innovation Regions across the UK and encourage 5G take-up in the public sector and in industry; the Government says that it will establish a regional taskforce to encourage take-up and investment at the local level; it will also ensure new hospitals have access to 5G or similar advanced wireless connectivity, allowing major improvements in healthcare delivery; and
- investing £100 million in the future of 6G.
The Government has also published a Spectrum Statement to “ensure that, across government, we have the right policy framework in place to maximise the overall value of spectrum use to the UK, while supporting wider policy objectives”.
The Statement notes that spectrum is an increasingly important and valuable finite national resource on which devices and services depend. Further, the Statement notes, its use is of strategic importance to addressing major upcoming policy challenges, from digital connectivity ambitions and the future of broadcasting to the energy transition and delivery of the National Space Strategy and Integrated Review.
The Government recognises that demand for spectrum will continue to grow. It notes that across sectors, both private and public, an expanding range of spectrum applications is contributing to changing demand for spectrum and shaping the challenges facing spectrum management, with greater scarcity in some frequency bands and increasing use of higher frequencies. Therefore, the Government says, more efficient use of spectrum and coordination across public and private sector use is a priority to ensure that spectrum is not a limiting factor on the UK’s economic and societal potential.
The Statement sets out a new strategic vision and principles for spectrum policy, with a focus on innovation in the use and management of spectrum to create greater opportunities for growth and societal benefits through increased access to spectrum. It also highlights the importance of spectrum in enabling wider government priorities and outlines the governance arrangements in place to support effective cross-government working and engagement with Ofcom on spectrum matters, including international representation and public sector spectrum use. The Government says that this will “support the [its] plan to cement the UK’s place as a science and technology superpower by 2030”. To access the Wireless Infrastructure Strategy, click here. To access the Spectrum Statement, click here.