Focus on 5G rather than fibre broadband, urges Vodafone government affairs chief

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But CityFibre sales director says the UK has work to do with its FTTP penetration

There is too much focus on full-fibre broadband when there should be more investment in delivering a leading 5G network.

That is the view of Vodafone head of government affairs Paul Morris, who was one of many speakers at the Westminster eForum in Whitehall.

The agenda at the eForum was on the next step for UK mobile, looking at infrastructure, market dynamics and 5G development.

Morris claims that Vodafone is “leading the 5G generation”, with plans to roll out the technology to 19 UK cities this year, but made a case that the government can be more cooperative in this area.

“We think the government can help create better conditions for the case of 5G. However, our impressions are that the focus is on full fibre,” said Morris.

“While we support the need to build a gigabit-capable network, the policies for full fibre don’t support 5G and we need to move quickly to have the framework in place for that so it doesn’t compromise the UK’s standing as one of the leaders of 5G.”

Morris also believes that lessons need to be learned from the shortcomings of 4G and has urged for a favourable environment.

“We need to create an environment where the barriers to investment and rollout are removed, allowing us to exploit 5G to its full potential,” he said.

INFRASTRUCTURE

Also speaking at the eForum, CityFibre sales director George Wareing argued that the UK has work to do with its full-fibre infrastructure.

The UK is currently ranked 35th globally for full fibre-to-the-premises and is behind Madagascar, with just four per cent penetration.

Wareing said: “As a nation in mobile, we’re keeping pace globally and working on deployments similar to those of the leaders in the world.

However, when it comes to our fibre infrastructure we’re way behind equivalent economies around the world.

“This is something we need to change, as we could hinder the overall digital landscape and making the progress we need.”

Milton Keynes, Aberdeen and Edinburgh were among the first UK cities to receive CityFibre’s FTTP investment, with just over a million premises passed across the country and a target of 15 million by 2025.

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