We don’t know what 5G is, but the UK will be a leader – promises Prime Minister

The UK’s Prime Minister, David Cameron, has promised that the UK will not be missing out on the opportunity of 5G. He speaks at the CeBIT technology show in Hannover on his plan to make Blighty the “most digital nation in the G8.”

In the rollout of 4G, the UK has been notoriously slow. Spectrum auctions played a big part in this; which led Orange and T-Mobile partnership, EE, being the sole network capable of provisioning 4G to the UK public over a frustratingly long-period.

“With 4G, an 800 megabyte movie takes around 40 seconds to download; with 5G that would be cut to one second,” said Cameron.

“This is a prize that researchers all over the world are going for and so I am delighted to announce a new collaboration, between the University of Dresden, King’s College University in London and the University of Surrey.” he added.

Absent from his speech was any pledge to the amount of funding being made available to support this research, if any, considering the heavy budget-cuts still being made by the UK government to help reduce the country’s deficit.

Aside from this joint venture, the University of Surrey is working with several organisations to create a specialised 5G Innovation Centre on its main campus in Guildford. To support this, the university received £11.6 million in autumn last year from the Higher Education Funding Council of England in autumn - alongside contributions in the form of time and expertise from vendors including; Huawei, Samsung and Telefónica.

What raises eyebrows amongst industry-observers about this promise is that we’ve not truly even begun to define what 5G is, only what it should look like…

Matthew Howett, telecoms and technology analyst at Ovum, said: “I understand why David Cameron, Angela Merkel and others in Europe are signalling their interest, but currently it is meaningless.”

The Prime Minister also makes a pledge to move the “Internet of Things” away from a slogan and into actual reality. £73 million has been put forward, he says, to promote research in this area and help to truly create a more digital Britain…

“These are developments that could allow literally billions of everyday objects to talk to each other over the internet - using low-cost, low-power chips,” Cameron said.

“This has enormous potential to change our lives. Electricity meters that talk to the grid to get you the best deals, health monitors that keep an eye on your heart rate, water pipes that warn of a fall in pressure. And yes, even a fridge that can order you milk when it notices you are getting low.” He adds.

What do you think of Cameron’s pledges to make the UK as a digital leader in these technologies?

To learn more about the Internet of Things visit IoT Tech Expo Europe in London's Olympia, 2-3 December 2015. 

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