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Could a Post-Brexit Skills Shortage Scupper the UK’s 5G Efforts?

The UK is pressing ahead with plans to get a commercial 5G offering in the market by 2019, and the UK government is investing huge sums in an attempt to safeguard the country’s digital economy post Brexit.

The UK government certainly seems to have grasped the transformative potential of 5G and is keen to ensure that the country leads from the front as Europe looks to rollout fifth generation mobile networks.

“Whilst the UK is well positioned to capitalise on its already booming £180bn tech sector in further developing the digital economy, key challenges remain around skills (and the impact on losing / not being able to attract talent post Brexit), affordable workspace and connectivity, which must be addressed,” said   Steven Bage, Strategic Infrastructure Advisor at the City of London Corporation.

The UK’s Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport has invested significant amounts of public money into 5G development, as well as into full fibre broadband initiatives, as the country looks to put digital connectivity at the centre of its future prosperity, but some barriers to progress must be overcome in order to guarantee success.

“5G in particular brings about significant challenges given that 5G small cells are expected to be required every 1-200 metres to transmit 5G coverage at street level.  The City of London has offered up its street furniture assets under a wireless concession however we will not have sufficient street furniture to cope the demand for small cells and therefore if the UK is to be a leader in 5G development we will need to house small cells on buildings,” said Bage.

“This poses concern to some landlords due to mobile operator’s rights under the Electronic Communications Code, and perceived risks posed to future redevelopment of buildings.  It is hoped that the GLA’s mobile wayleave will go some way to rolling out greater mobile infrastructure on buildings and that a small cell agreement will also be developed which can build greater trust between landlords and mobile operators.  Greater engagement between the property and telecoms industries is the key to achieving timely roll out of 5G and this should (and is) being encouraged by the Barrier Busting team within DCMS,” he added.

The City of London was awarded both the Wireless Connectivity Award (for their Gigabit Wi-Fi and small cells network) and the Barrier Removal Award (for their Standardised Wayleave Toolkit) at the Connected Britain Awards last month. – Total Telecom

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