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Action must be taken to ensure adequate 5G coverage in time for 2020 rollout across UK

Posted on Dec 15, 2016.

A new government report has urged mobile network operators to handle the rollout of the future 5G mobile network better than 4G was handled. 5G is expected to be ready to roll out shortly after 2020. It is expected to surpass 4G to provide faster uploads and downloads.

The existing 4G service has been described as appalling by Lord Andrew Adonis who heads the National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) and who has led the investigation into mobile coverage. He further commented, "The government has been putting more investment and obligation requirements on the mobile operators but we think that needs to be taken further”.

phone mast

The NIC said that mobile connectivity is a necessity in society and that 5G will play a crucial role in the economy.

Problems highlighted with existing 4G services have included an appalling coverage of 4G services on UK trains and motorways where 25% of the time it is impossible to get a decent signal. A report into coverage across the UK shows that the UK ranks just 54th in the world for coverage.

This should be improved for the rollout of 5G services to ensure there are far fewer of these black spots with no signal and direct responsibility for improving coverage should lie with Highways England and Network Rail.

Ofcom agrees that there is much room for improvement with 4G coverage and have welcomed this report although they indicated that the study the low UK ranking is based on may not be reliable. This is due to the study being based on the percentage of properties with access to a mobile phone signal and not based on coverage across the country.

Ofcom has said, "We agree that mobile coverage must improve, so we're pleased the NIC shares our ambition for universal coverage. Our rules mean that virtually all UK premises must receive a 4G signal by the end of next year, and we're also making more airwaves available to boost mobile broadband”.

Last month Ofcom challenged operators to reach all remote area and transport links across the UK.

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