At the 2017 autumn Budget, the Chancellor announced a £190 million Challenge Fund to help roll out full-fibre to local areas – providing the faster, most reliable broadband to more homes and businesses. At the spring statement, he allocated the first wave of this funding, providing over £95 million for 13 areas across the UK, including £25 million for six 5G ‘test beds’ – 5G RuralFirst in Somerset and 5G Smart Tourism in Bath and Bristol are among those receiving this funding – This is good news for the South West economy.
5G is the fifth generation of mobile network, and is intended to provide much greater speed and capacity than the current 4G network. This should mean that uses such as the ‘internet of things’ (the network of physical devices, vehicles, home appliances and other items embedded with electronics, software, sensors, actuators, and connectivity which enables these objects to connect and exchange data) and virtual reality – that demand too much bandwidth for a 4G network to cope with – will become much more feasible.
Some 5G fixed-wireless access networks are expected to begin rolling out next year, with public mobile networks starting to follow in 2020, with major cities across the world likely to be first to benefit. In the two years following that, the technology will become increasingly common before eventually becoming the norm for all mobile users in the UK.