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UK government branded as the ‘biggest barrier’ in 5G rollout

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According to industry figures, fibre installation needed for 5G is being hampered by government policies

Could the government policy and regulation really be hindering the UK move towards 5G? Well, according to an event hosted by law firm Herbert Smith Freehills, 50% of attendees ­– which included representatives from major telecoms, broadband and technology companies – argued that government policy and regulation are the reason for the 5G standstill we now find ourselves in. But why and how? Whether knowingly, or not, the government fails to lend itself as an enabler in installing new large-scale full fibre infrastructure investment in the UK, which, is instrumental for a successful 5G rollout.

The event saw many telecommunications experts coming together to discuss this and similar issues, exploring such avenues as funding and economical challenges. Though the aforementioned factors proved to be the predominate ones, 4% blamed market conditions and structure.

With fibre optic infrastructure seen as vital for future wireless mobile phone networks such as 5G – which will provide broadband-speed downloads for mobile phone users – Dana Tobak, MD at Hyperoptic says, “One of our biggest challenges is actually getting way-leaves in local authority buildings.”*

“There seems to be a disconnect in appreciating that in order to get full fibre, you actually need to put fibre in there,” she adds.

Head of public affairs and policy at Virgin Media, Daniel Butler, affirms that whilst the government talked a good game on fibre installation, some of its policies were distinctly unhelpful.

“There’s been somewhat of a mismatch between the government’s enthusiastic rhetoric to get as much infrastructure-based competition as possible in to the UK market and some of the policy decisions we’ve seen emerge,” says Butler.

Butler cites an increase in business rates and wholesale price controls on super-fast broadband as the types of government policies that were slowing the installation of fibre networks.

*‘Not granting way-leaves’ – not granting right of way. In essence, Dana Tobak suggests that the government is slowing its installation programme.


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