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The government published a 70-page epic last week on its ambitions to make the UK a “global leader” in 5G. Philip Hammond proposed investments of up to £16m to launch a new national programme of 5G testbeds and trials, putting the UK “at the forefront of the 5G revolution”.

But to what extent is it this actually feasible and, more importantly, necessary?

The main benefit for businesses and consumers of this next wave of mobile technology is it will enable faster mobile connections. It will also prove vital for those innovating in the interconnected devices and Internet of Things (IoT) space.

However, it is not set to reach the market within the next decade. Despite being a long way from introduction and mass adoption, 5G has already generated significant hype, particularly at this year’s Mobile World Congress, where companies including Intel demonstrated 5G-reliant connected cars, devices and cities.

The government has already been trialling this technology for some time, having ploughed £12m into a £70m 5G innovation centre at the University of Surrey in September 2015. It appears more testing is required though, as definitive standards for the technology are only due to be agreed in 2019.

Figures from research and consultancy firm Ovum forecast there will be 24 million 5G subscribers by 2021, though less than 10% of those connections are set to be in Europe. This, along with concerns about 5G’s overall viability, has meant this technology has been met with a great deal of skepticism from industry experts in the UK.


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