DCMS claims 5G by 2020 will give UK economy £50bn boost

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Department of Culture, Media and Sport says wider market will benefit from spectrum currently allocated for use in the public sector  

4G technology may still be in its infancy, but the UK government last week outlined plans to ensure 5G will be available in the UK by 2020 – claiming the technology will add £50 billion to the UK economy.

Speaking at the 5G Huddle conference in London this month, Department of Culture Media and Sport (DCMS) head of spectrum Simon Towler said spectrum currently allocated for use in the public sector will be made available to the wider market.

The government has been running a public sector spectrum release programme since 2011 which makes spectrum that is no longer required by the likes of the health service and Ministry of Defence available for general use. Further releases will take place over the next few years including the release of spectrum which will be used to enable 5G connectivity.

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Towler said 5G connectivity will be available in the UK within six years, by 2020, and will generate an additional £50 billion in the UK by 2025.

He added increased capacity and speeds through 5G will allow mobile customers to download an HD Movie in just one second.

“We aim to double the economic contribution of spectrum to the UK economy by 2025,” said Towler. “That’s no mean feat because we estimate that radio spectrum use contributes £50 billion. It’s already an enormously significant contributor.”

Former Minister of State for Universities and Science David Willetts (pictured), also at the conference, added: “Of course, there will be individuals where being able to download complete movies in a second will be the most exciting feature of 5G but for me it is this wider opportunity for the internet of things that makes it significant.

“That’s what has caught our imagination in government and it’s an interest that’s very real in the Business Department, DCMS and that goes right up to No 10.”

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