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Autumn Budget: Chancellor commits half a billion pounds into 5G, AI and fibre broadband

Manny Pham
November 22, 2017

Around £160m of this figure will be committed to the development of 5G

Chancellor of the exchequer Philip Hammond has announced today (Nov 22) in the Autumn Budget a further £500 million will be invested into 5G, artificial intelligence and full fibre broadband.

Around £160m of this figure will be committed to the development of 5G networks across the UK. This adds to the £16m committed by the chancellor in the Spring Budget, for an “innovation network” designed to work with research institutions: the University of Surrey, University of Bristol and King’s College London.

Support was committed to regulatory innovation with a new fund and a geo-spacial data commission, will be set up to utilise the government’s location data to drive economic growth.

The chancellor (pictured) said: “A new tech business is founded in Britain every hour and I want that to be very half hour so today we invest over £500m in a range of initiative from artificial intelligence to 5G and full fibre broadband.

“We’ll support regulatory innovation with a new regulators pioneer fund and a new geo-spacial data commission to develop a strategy for using the gov’s location data to support economic growth and to help our tech starts up reach scale”.

O2 chief executive Mark Evans welcomed the announcement but stated more collaboration is needed between operators to drive the UK’s 5G potential, which will in turn contribute £7bn to the economy by 2026, according to O2 research.

“Mobile connectivity is one of the UK’s most powerful opportunities to strengthen and grow our economy while also improving the lives of the British public.

“However, to truly realise this ambition we need greater and urgent collaboration between operators, national and local government, enterprise and communities.

“We need a framework that facilitates the efficient and effective deployment of improved mobile networks which will deliver a better connected experience for everyone. Only then we will be able to become a world-leading digital economy.”

EE CEO Marc Allera echoes Evans: “We’ve made huge improvements in coverage on rail lines, but to really meet passengers’ connectivity demands, government, transport and telecoms industries now need to work more closely together. To succeed, the government must set an ambitious, clear plan that brings all parties together to deliver on the promise of great connectivity for passengers across the UK”.

Driverless cars

The government is aiming to have driverless cars on British roads by 2021, the chancellor said “there is perhaps no technology as symbolic of the revolution gathering pace around us as driverless vehicles”. But groundwork needs to be laid by increasing electric car numbers on British roads.

He committed £400m to the development of electric car charing infrastructure, £100m will go to help people buy electric cars, and £40m in charging research and development.

“Our future vehicles will be driverless but they will be electric first and that’s a change that needs to come for our planet. We’ll establish a £400m charging infrastructure fund, invest an extra £100m in plug in car grant, and £40m in charging research and development. I can confirm today that people who charge their vehicles at work will no receive a benefit in kind charge from next year”.

American technology firm Intel said the announcement “marks the beginning of the global driving revolution”. Intel claims the economy created by autonomous driving will grow from $800 billion (£603bn) to $7 trillion (£5.27tn) globally, as fully autonomous vehicles become common.

The firm said in a statement: “The impact of the autonomous movement will also see a decrease in costs to the public. Savings from reduced traffic related accidents will top hundreds of billions globally between 2035-2045. Self-driving vehicles are also expected to free more than 250 million hours of consumers’ commuting time per year in cities such as London, which is among the most congested in the world.”

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