5G industry news Acceleration & Innovation

What will the UK's network look like in 2030?

  • 4 minute read
  • Published by Crispin Moller on 3 Jun 2021
  • Last modified 3 Jun 2021
Four things we learned at 5G Realised 2021

1. The value of the relationship between neutral hosts and mobile network operators (MNOs)

Leading a talk about how technology can support cities to be as attractive as possible to live and work in, Brendan O’Reilly, Group Chief Technology Officer, BAI Communications emphasised that communication is more important than ever. It is, he explained, a catalyst for change, predicting that 5G will transform the economy, as well as our everyday lives. 

“However, to maximise this opportunity we’re seeing an important trend to moving towards neutral hosting infrastructure. MNOs are focusing on the customer experience and as a result, infrastructure is no longer seen as a competitive advantage. But collaboration is required to be able to deliver this fantastic user experience,” he continued. “This relationship between neutral hosts and MNOs can drive real value and if it’s done well, it's going to be one of the best enablers for public enterprises.”

He added: “This is just the beginning of an exciting period of transition. MNOs are switching to competing on experience, which should deliver a service in a way that we aren’t right now and this should truly allow our communities to flourish.”

2. The Potential of 5G to Transform the NHS and Digital Healthcare

In a panel discussion focusing on the vertical sector, experts emphasised that 5G is creating a real opportunity to rethink healthcare. It will enable the sector to transform diagnosing, home and community emergency response, and long-term conditions management. 

The group suggested that 5G will be most valuable in individual homes, followed by campus hubs and care homes. It could be used, for example, to provide assistance to elderly people who want to exercise by notifying them about the air quality; or allow ambulances to treat more people at the scene. This will involve ensuring that patients are equipped with the correct devices and educating the UK population about the benefits. 

“The NHS is a difficult nut to crack because it's a collection of organisations but there’s a huge appetite for 5G services, which will place the patient at the centre,” they concluded. 

The discussion was held by Danny Kelly Head of Innovation, Vodafone Business UK; Adrian Smith Health & Social Care Solutions Lead, WM5G; Andy Cachaldora General Manager, Digital Service N. Europe, GE Healthcare; and Suparno Banerjee Vice President Government and Cities, Nokia

3. Digital transformation is happening at different speeds across sectors 

Debating scaling 5G business models and de-mystifying alternative commercial models, speakers highlighted that one of the biggest challenges to 5G rollout is that some sectors are “really lagging behind”. Some industries—including media and finance—are digitally progressing very quickly whereas other divisions, such as construction, seem to be struggling.

Lack of access was identified as the most common rollout problem, specifically land, buildings and fibres. Funding is a primary issue, too. The panel explained, however, that this is expected because “new services take time”. 

“But 5G needs to be industry-led. The network is very different to 4G; it is an enterprise application rather than primarily consumer and if it’s going to take off as it should, we really need alternative structures for private networks and other 5G deployments,” one panellist explained.

The conversation included Lou Tricarico, Head of EMEA, Technology, Media and Telecoms, Specialised Asset Finance, Macquarie Group; Guy Peddy, Division Director, Macquarie Group, Giovanni Della Pesca Senior Vice President, Macquarie Capital; Russell Beardmore  Consultant, Macquarie Group; and Nick Elverston Practice Group Head, Digital Economy Transactions, Ashurst. 

4. What will the network look like in 2030?

A seminar looking at the move from 5G to 5G+/5.5G and 6G stressed that “we overestimate what will change in five years, and underestimate what will change in ten”.

Predictions included: 

  • 5G will be rolled out everywhere
  • A distributed trustable infrastructure 
  • Robots used in everyday society, not just in factories 
  • Major coverage, including rural areas and motorways 
  • A reliance on virtual and augmented reality 
  • Evolution of services from digital to holographic
  • Quantum computing will play a significant role (attendees disagreed on whether or not it will be widely available by 2030)

The talk was led by Jesus Alonso-Zarate Deputy Director EC Research and Innovation Policies and Strategies, i2CAT Foundation; Dimitra Simeonidou Director Smart Internet Lab, Co-Director Digital Futures Institute, University of Bristol; Francesca Serravalle Emerging Technology Director, Colt Technology Services; and Rahim Tafazolli Regius Professor of Electronic Engineering; Director & Founder, Institute of Communication Systems and 5G Innovation Centre, University of Surrey.