New report published on 5G market diversification

The House of Commons Science and Technology Select Committee's new report, 5G market diversification and wider lessons for critical and emerging technologies, published today, highlights the dependency of the UK's 5G rollout on just two vendors, posing risks to network resilience and security.  

Drawing on evidence taken throughout the course of the inquiry, including written and oral evidence submitted by techUK on behalf of members, the Report warns against repeating mistakes as new and important technologies evolve. MPs on the Select Committee call on the government to publish a new assessment of the risks of global technological divergence of standards—and the UK's action plan—within 12 months.  

The recommended White Paper should identify critical emerging technologies and associated risks of dependency on high risk vendors, and lay out the Government's proposed response, including consideration of domestic capability and international co-operation, research and supply chain security, and fair, transparent standards setting.    

Noting that 5G is not the only emerging technology of critical importance to the UK’s future, the Report sets out a series of key recommendations for the current telecommunications rollout, recently addressed in the Government's 5G Supply Chain Diversification Strategy. Concluding that the strategy needs now to be accompanied by an action plan to implement the strategy, the Committee recommends that there should be:   

  • A programme of research and development actively managed by the Government:  the Government must drive the effort with industry and academia to meet its long-term objectives rather than take a passive approach;     

  • A range of measures to diversify the market: OpenRAN is one route to diversification, but as its success is uncertain, it should not be regarded as a 'silver bullet' for 5G supplier diversification; and   

  • International co-operation: the UK accounts for a small proportion of the global telecommunications market, so international co-ordination will be critical. The Committee recommends that the Government establish a standing forum for international co-operation on diversifying the telecommunications market.   

Given the scale of the challenge and the urgency of the need to diversify the telecoms supply chain, the report also recommends the Government should publish, within three months, a more detailed action plan for implementing its diversification strategy. This should include a breakdown of how the initial budget will be spent and a series of milestones with target dates for completion. 

Commenting on the House of Commons’ Science and Technology Committee’s report “5G market diversification and wider lessons for critical and emerging technologies”, Matthew Evans, Director of Markets, techUK said:

“The Science and Technology Committee rightly highlights the urgency needed from government. Firstly, the government must work with industry so that, despite the changes to the vendor supply base in the UK, 5G networks – and all the productivity and economic benefits that they will deliver – are rolled out as quickly as possible to all corners of the UK. Secondly, that we take advantage of the global trend towards Open RAN and disaggregated technologies to both drive resilience and put the UK at the forefront of this global movement.” 

Find out more about techUK's Diversifying Telecoms event series so far.

Jo O'Riordan

Jo O'Riordan

Head of Spectrum Policy and Telecoms, techUK

Sophie James

Sophie James

Programme Manager, Communications Infrastructure and Services, techUK

Julia Ofori-Addo

Julia Ofori-Addo

Programme Assistant, BSG, Central Government, Financial Services Team, Comms Infrastructure, techUK

Matthew Evans

Matthew Evans

Director, Markets, techUK