UK’s 5G and Broadband Targets Face Doubt Among MPs

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New research conducted by consultancy Cluttons in collaboration with YouGov has revealed significant doubts among Conservative MPs regarding the UK’s ability to achieve government targets for nationwide standalone 5G coverage by 2030. The study, which surveyed 104 MPs and 556 local councillors, found that only one-third of Conservative MPs (34%) expressed confidence in meeting the ambitious targets set by the government.

The survey delved into the confidence levels regarding the government’s aim to ensure that the majority of premises have access to gigabit broadband and 5G by 2030. Alarmingly, just 44% of Tory MPs expressed confidence in achieving the broadband targets, while Labour MPs appeared even more pessimistic, with none believing that the broadband targets would be met and only 3% expressing confidence in the 5G targets.

Despite 71% of all MPs acknowledging the need for improved connectivity in their constituencies, there seems to be a disconnect in understanding the benefits of gigabit and 5G among constituents. According to the survey, 42% of MPs reported frequent inquiries from constituents regarding broadband and mobile connections for their homes and businesses.

Gráinne Gilmore, Head of Research at Cluttons, highlighted the urgent need for improved trust and understanding among all parties involved. She emphasized the importance of a nationwide rollout of gigabit broadband and 5G to maintain the UK’s competitiveness on a global scale.

Darren Zitren, Head of Infrastructure at Cluttons, stressed the vital role of connectivity in daily life and called for enhanced collaboration and support for infrastructure development. Zitren underscored the significance of additional funding and a national information campaign to expedite the rollout process.

While the focus of the discussion has largely been on 5G and fiber targets, the Shared Rural Network initiative has also come under scrutiny. Created to extend 4G coverage to rural areas, this partnership between government and mobile operators aims to achieve 95% 4G landmass coverage by December 2025. However, concerns have been raised regarding the sufficiency of funding to meet these targets, as suggested by the National Audit Office.

As the UK navigates its path towards improved connectivity, bridging the gap between ambition and implementation remains a critical challenge that requires concerted efforts from both government and industry stakeholders.

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