Spring Budget & 5G Strategy Highlight Next Generation of Digital Infrastructure

Today's Spring Budget reconfirms announcements made in the Autumn Statement and UK Digital Strategy regarding National Productivity Investment Fund allocation of £740m in digital infrastructure by 2020-21, and £400 million in a new Digital Infrastructure Investment Fund (to be matched by private sector investors).

UK Government today also launched the Next Generation Mobile Technologies: A 5G Strategy for the UK which sets out the government’s ambition that the UK should be a global leader in 5G to take early advantage of its potential and help to create a world-leading digital economy that works for everyone.

In the 5G Strategy, the UK Government committed to two key actions:

  • The creation of a new national 5G Innovation Network to trial and demonstrate 5G applications. The Government’s initial investment will be up to £16 million for a cutting edge facility with the technology to run the trials, delivered through cooperation between leading 5G research institutions during 2017/18. It will deliver an end-to-end 5G trial in early 2018 and support a number of testbed spokes from 2018/19. Funding for future trials will be awarded on a competitive basis.
  • The establishment of a new centre of 5G expertise in DCMS to ensure that work across the UK to develop 5G capabilities is joined up in a way that meets the strategic objectives of the programme.

Julian McGougan, techUK’s Head of Technology commented: “techUK welcomes the Government’s 5G Strategy and its re-affirmation of the desire for the UK to become a 5G leader. Government’s intention to look again at planning and regulatory system, and a focus on connectivity in major transport corridors, will be key to enable cost-effective infrastructure deployment and sharing. techUK already has initiatives underway, bringing together industry and public sector, to assist in policy development in these key areas.

“A concerted effort from government and business is needed to ensure the UK’s creativity and entrepreneurial spirit is focused on ensuring the UK becomes a world leader in developing and adopting applications that use 5G connectivity. Today’s announcement of a 5G Innovation Network is a very welcome development.”

This 5G Strategy builds on both the recently published Digital Strategy and the Government’s modern Industrial Strategy and aims to deliver three main outcomes: (1) accelerating the deployment of 5G networks; (2) maximising the productivity and efficiency benefits to the UK from 5G; and (3) creating new opportunities for UK businesses at home and abroad, and encouraging inward investment.

Of particular interest to the UK Spectrum Policy Forum is:

“The FCCG’s report into 5G recommends that the Government should “explore potential to access the 3.8-4.2 GHz range on a shared basis as an extension to adjacent 3.4-3.8 GHz Spectrum and promote this in Europe”, and that the Government should use the UK Spectrum Policy Forum (SPF) as a sounding board for future spectrum plans for 5G.

“The Government already seeks and considers advice from industry through the SPF, including its valuable work to date on 5G, and will continue to work closely with the forum.”  (p.49)


More information is available on the activities of the UK Spectrum Policy Forum and the Communications Infrastructure Programme.

techUK’s recent report on 5G: New Services, New Customers, New Challenges is available.

You can read more on the Budget here:

> > techUK Responds to the 2017 Budget

> > techUK Roundup of key Budget 2017 Announcement

> > New Funding for Social Care Announced

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