The highly-anticipated rollout of 5G is being prolonged in the United Kingdom due to an array of challenges in deploying the new mobile infrastructure, according to a report published by the Broadband Stakeholders Group (BSG). The report follows up on previous findings published in 2017, and identifies key challenges faced during the 5G network’s deployment process. The report also identified 13 specific barriers that reflect practical challenges to plan and deploy mobile 5G infrastructure.
One of the report’s purposes is to assist the U.K. government in fulfilling its goal of becoming part of the forefront for 5G connectivity, by identifying and proposing solutions for current and potential barriers to network deployment. Among the major factors likely attributing to a delay in 5G rollout are legal barriers, deployment issues, and challenges with stakeholder engagement.
These aspects could collectively limit deployments of 5G infrastructure, and fuel any uncertainties, regarding the business side of things for denser 5G networks. The aforementioned issues do serve as a significant brake on investment because of additional cost and/or delays. Consequently, this means it could be difficult to have network providers commit to 5G rollouts if there isn’t a stronger guarantee for success on their ends.
“The next 12-18 months are vitally important for the mobile industry to prepare for 5G deployment,” says Analysys Mason Partner and Project Director Matt Yardley. “Easing barriers to deploying that result in lengthy delays in site planning, or increase costs of deployment to unrealistic levels, should be a key priority for government, local authorities, and the industry.”
While many question marks (namely for investors) exist for 5G and very dense small cell networks in particular, many challenges derive from uncertainty surrounding the benefits 5G will supposedly deliver for the U.K. This can be countered by establishing a better sense of clarity for this value, which could mitigate concerns for the industry and raise awareness for national priorities regarding mobile infrastructure within local authorities who have had the greatest operational impacts on network deployments.
“The government is rightly ambitious in wanting to ensure that the U.K. can benefit from being a global leader in the use of 5G,” says Broadband Stakeholder Group Chairman Richard Hooper. “The difficulty lies in how to efficiently deploy the infrastructure that 5G requires and we believe that this report provides a roadmap for how we can do so—removing unnecessary barriers and helping to deliver more investment and ultimately better coverage and capacity for users.”
In total, there were 21 recommendations for industry stakeholders, along with central and local government proposed with short-term wins (like standardized access to public sector sites and leveraging the government’s Local Full Fibre Networks Programme) to aid deployments of 5G networks.