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19 December 2016

UK Government 'Must Take Action' on 5G

[Our comment: South Korea is the most connected
 country in the world, and it is also the country with
the highest rate of autism in the world and one of the
highest suicide rates.]
UK government 'must take action' on 5G
BBC News, 14 December 2016

The rollout of the UK's future 5G mobile network must be handled better than 4G was, according to a new report.

The current 4G network ranks only 54th in the world in terms of coverage, the government-appointed experts said.

Lord Adonis, who led the investigation, told the BBC that coverage on the UK's trains and motorways was "frankly appalling".

He urged ministers to ensure there would be far fewer dead spots on the next-generation network.

"The government has been putting more investment and obligation requirements on the mobile operators but we think that needs to be taken further," Lord Adonis, who heads the National Infrastructure Commission (NIC), told the BBC's Today programme.

"We particularly think there is a big problem with our road and rail networks. Up to 25% of the time it is not possible to get a decent signal."

Highways England and Network Rail must take "direct responsibility" for improving coverage on roads and railways, he added.

'Must improve'

Ofcom welcomed the report but indicated the study that gave rise to the UK's low ranking might not be reliable.

The communications regulator's targets are based on the percentage of properties that have access to a mobile phone signal rather than coverage to all parts of the country.

But the figure quoted by the NIC was based on data gathered by an app used by volunteers measuring the amount of time they had access to a 4G network over the course of each day. Ofcom is understood to be concerned that the app does not measure coverage across the country.

"We agree that mobile coverage must improve, so we're pleased the NIC shares our ambition for universal coverage," said a spokesman for the communications regulator.

"Our rules mean that virtually all UK premises must receive a 4G signal by the end of next year, and we're also making more airwaves available to boost mobile broadband.

"Last month, we challenged mobile operators to explore how to reach all remote areas and transport lines.

"We will shortly publish robust data on 4G in the UK, to help inform decisions on improving coverage."

Lord Adonis acknowledged that the crowdsourced data gathered by OpenSignal was not perfect, but said it was "based on 15 million users worldwide and 60 million measurements in the UK - no one's got better data than that".

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