Centre for cities Deliverying Change cover

How cities should take advantage of 5G

A new report published by thinktank Centre for Cities and Telefonica has made several recommendations about how the UK can keep pace in the race for full 5G coverage.

The report examines the UK’s current digital infrastructure, and roadblocks to increased connectivity.

According to the report, super fast broadband is currently available to 94% of homes in cities, yet take-up is only 43%. It argues a ‘world class’ digital infrastructure in cities needs a fibre network connecting every building as well as significantly more 4G — and soon 5G — cells.

Centre for Cities explains that 5G will provide much more than a speedy internet connection, but that it supports far greater connectivity between Internet of Things devices.

A country-wide rollout of 5G will require sizeable infrastructure investment. The shorter range of the higher frequency radio waves that 5G uses will require many times more cells in cities than the 4G network. Each cell must be connected to its own fibre and power connection. London alone is expected to need 500,000 cells in order to offer 5G everywhere.

Centre For Cities Telefonica UK Internet Connectivity

The report provides the following recommendations:

National government should:

  • Include a requirement for the provision of high quality digital infrastructure – mobile and fixed – in all new developments in the forthcoming NPPF
  • Review the Electronic Communications Code after 12 months and take action if it remains a barrier to new investment in digital infrastructure
  • Devolve the Adult Education Budget to metro mayors

Cities should:

  • Integrate plans for full fibre and 5G connectivity into any future public realm developments, considering how lampposts might be used
  • Work together to share problems to improve procurement to reduce the costs and increase the diffusion of digital innovation across the public sector and from the private sector
  • Work with business and take a leading role in Local Digital Skills Partnerships

Centre for Cities is a research and policy institute, dedicated to improving the economic success of UK cities.

Read the full report here

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