Yesterday, the chancellor laid out the priorities for spending in the UK over the coming years. We’re particularly interested in the half a billion pounds (660 million USD) that has been dedicated to new technology investments, with over a third (£160 million) of this directed at the trialing of 5G networks in the UK.
“Today we invest over £500m in a range of initiatives from artificial intelligence, to 5G and full fibre broadband” #Budget2017 pic.twitter.com/FfBno59JCQ
— HM Treasury (@hmtreasury) 22 November 2017
Added to this is £2.3 billion for R&D, a tax cut to 12 per cent for R&D, £35 million to improve mobile connectivity on trains (answering criticism from Lord Adonis’s recent report), £1.7 billion for transport infrastructure in cities and the Chancellor’s statement that “There is perhaps no technology as symbolic of the revolution gathering pace around us as driverless vehicles” with the Government’s accompanying tweet saying “fully self-driving cars [will be possible on UK roads] by 2021”.
What does this mean?
There’s a lot to digest, so let’s summarise it from the beginning…
What is 5G?
In many ways 5G is a development ‘toolkit’, rather than a single technology, that will enable use cases that we have not even yet thought of to develop – but all relying on the promise of almost unlimited bandwidth with lightning fast latency. When 4G was envisioned over 15yrs ago, where was Uber, Facebook and Whatapp? Perhaps think ‘immersive video’ allowing better than reality (!) video walls to replace the need for travelling to face to face meetings. Where does HS2 or HS3 fit in then?
When will 5G really happen?
Much like 3G and 4G, we don’t expect there to be a ‘Big Bang’ adoption of 5G, but rather a progressive adoption of the numerous technologies that make up the 5G ‘toolbox’, driven by a number of compelling, already-envisioned new applications such as driverless vehicles, Gbit to the home, ‘proper’ rural broadband and even improving 4G coverage. Early roll-outs will therefore start in 2019/20 with a long road to 5G by the end of the 2020s. We intend to do as much as we can to help UK PLCs take the lead in these efforts.
What does this funding mean for Blu Wireless Technology?
We’re already involved in a number of projects in the UK and further afield, in making multi-Gbit connectivity happen as a path to full 5G. We expect to be fully involved in these Government initiatives with our partners and we’re ideally positioned to help understand what 5G will be. Like all technologies of this type, the end result is never what was initially envisaged and you need to learn by ‘doing’ with others in an open and collaborative way. Should be a great journey for everyone involved!