Rapid 5G adoption for a ‘Connected Britain’

Held over two days at the Business Design Centre in London, Connected Britain 2019 was an event not to be missed. Packed with inspirational keynotes, panels and roundtables featuring mobile network operators, local government, CTIL, fibre and neutral host experts, it was the place to be for anyone involved in getting Britain connected.

Together Richard, Ravi Mondair (CEO of our sister business iWireless Solutions) and Graham Payne hosted a round table discussion about the rapid adoption of 5G. Covering both the current barriers and likely enablers, the Digital Colony UK digital infrastructure platform team were joined by connectivity focused representatives from local government, a mobile network operator (EE) and the full gamut of connectivity providers. Full of healthy debate, the main barriers were broadly about proof of the projected value of 5G connectivity versus the upfront costs and disruption of infrastructure enablement. Though divided on some of the deployment priorities (e.g. latency vs capacity, or a local vs a regional approach), the group all agreed that for 5G to be rapidly adopted across the UK, both industry and local government needed to work together to provide a clear:

  1. Business case

It was agreed that the evidence for the value of 5G networks was already out there (in the economic gains of already connected cities worldwide, and via big four management consultancy reports). But there’s a need for industry providers to take a long term view of 5G network deployment remuneration. Ultimately, a ‘build it and they will come’ confidence and financial commitment.

  1. Use case

But at a local scale (smaller than city level), and in terms of rural deployment, use cases would need to be locally informed and led. The possible costs of infrastructure disruption shouldn’t be underestimated or taken lightly. Providers and local leaders will need to work closely to predict and proactively manage connectivity enablement case by case.

  1. Unified marketing campaign

Although open access to street assets and other initiatives to drive industry competition will also increase innovation and rapid deployment, there was a consensus that ubiquitous 5G connectivity would also require greater industry collaboration and unity around common goals.

Momentum around the right priorities and country level goals could be better achieved if all the major players were unified in their promotion efforts.

If unlike other network rollouts 5G isn’t going to impact everyone immediately, visibility of how it’s going to be used initially, in the right contexts, while also promoting the possibilities for the near future, will be key to the feeling of rapid adoption.

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20 June 2019