Tony Sceales Tony Sceales Head of Programme Development - 5G Programme - Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport - UK Government

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UK's enthusiasm for 5G is going strong!

  • The GSMA recently released an article titled ‘5G: A Backbone for Europe’s Economic Recovery’, which points to the role the mobile industry, and the innovation 5G is playing in continuing to drive new thinking in technology, business and critical services across the 750 mobile operator members of the GSMA across 90 countries.  This entirely reflects our experience in the DCMS 5G Testbeds and Trials programme here in the UK.  


    But first let’s pause and reflect that 5G is still young as a technology, with standards and equipment being released in stages over a number of years – and probably the most critical, release 16 has just been approved by 3GPP for use in live networks. This enables some of the most talked-about features – very low latency, very high reliability and massive machine-type communications – to be deployed at scale.  These are all crucial to the widespread adoption of city, region or nation-wide Internet of Things applications including mission-critical infrastructure, health/care diagnostics, industrial and logistics, public safety and connected vehicles.


    Our trials to date have worked on progressively more mature versions of 5G; in the early stages using prototype and pre- or non-standard equipment, and now some trials even moving to using production networks deployed by the four major Mobile Network Operators.  We’re deeply conscious that those operators and their global suppliers are stretched with trials across many of the 90 countries the GSMA covers. 


    Appetite for collaboration in our programme is growing fast.  We’re just launching seven Rural Connected Community projects across the UK, alongside two Industrial projects.  Our new 5G Create open funding call has attracted a large number of attendants at all of our briefing events, which due to COVID-19 have been moved online. Perhaps contrary to expectations, those events have seen significantly higher attendance than if they’d been held face to face, with 170 people logged in to the latest one last week.


    The UK government’s resolve and commitment to 5G remains strong, with our programme one of the top priorities for DCMS Secretary of State, Oliver Dowden.  5G has much to offer in maintaining and growing the UK’s position in global technology provision, and in winning real-terms productivity gains as we start to take the first tentative steps in planning the post-COVID economic recovery.  Our trials have shown the potential across rural, urban, transport and industrial landscapes, as well as having profound impacts in public safety and health.


    In September we are looking forward to joining in 5G Week and 5G Realised events as mixed-reality ventures, where attendees will have the option of experiencing interaction online, in person, or both.  Much more detail will be available soon, as the agendas are finalised – watch out for updates on UK5G and the event websites.

    Tony Sceales
    About Tony Sceales Tony Sceales works as Head of Programme Development - 5G Programme at Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport - UK Government
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