Government ‘risks 5G rollout failure’

A committee of MPs has warned the Government that it risks failing to meet its watered-down target for the rollout gigabit-capable broadband and 5G in the face of considerable challenges to infrastructure rollout.

Evidence to the Broadband and the road to 5G inquiry launched by the Commons Select Committee for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS Committee) found “little confidence” that nationwide gigabit-capable broadband by 2025 could be delivered and “no genuine belief" within the sector that it was achievable.

The committee’s report warns that the planned 5G rollout risks repeating a legacy of mobile and broadband ‘not spots’ around the country.

Challenged on the 2025 target throughout the inquiry, government ministers reassured the committee of the their commitment to it.

However, the committee said that within weeks of these appearances before MPs, the government abandoned its commitment to nationwide gigabit-capable broadband by 2025, aiming instead for 85 per cent coverage by that date.

The report states that it would not be acceptable having abandoned one unrealistic target, for the government to fail to meet a second less ambitious target through lack of effective planning or inadequate investment.

MPs also flagged concerns that only 25 per cent of the Government’s £5 billion package to support roll-out to the hardest-to-reach premises will be made available during this period.

The report also found the Government's target for majority 5G coverage by 2027 ‘equally ambitious’, given rulings banning the use of equipment by high-risk vendors.

Commenting on the report, DCMS committee chair Julian Knight said: “The government’s decision to abandon its 2025 gigabit-capable broadband target within weeks of ministers reassuring us of their commitment to it was a belated recognition that it was unrealistic and unachievable, underlining concerns we’d heard from industry.

“Valuable time has been lost, making meeting even the revised-down target a major challenge.”

He added: “On 5G, the government’s target to deliver to the majority of the population, rather than the majority of the country, risks repeating the same errors that led to mobile ‘not-spots’ with investors cherry-picking areas of high population and leaving people in remote rural areas without a hope. ”

    Share Story:

Recent Stories