Leader Views


Posted on:
5th July, 2019

"With 5G we will see huge advances in innovation, and the opening up of new opportunities for a variety of sectors."

Column inches have been written about the benefits of 5G mobile technology and the benefits it will bring. Here, Dorset LEP deputy chair and board member, Sara Uzzell, considers this step-change in connectivity capability and its potential impact ahead of a major business conference on 5G in Bournemouth today.

"With 5G we will see huge advances in innovation, and the opening up of new opportunities for a variety of sectors."

“We are very excited about the opportunities presented by 5G and the impact it could have. Bournemouth, like other major city regions in the UK, has a number of problems that it needs to address. Typically, these are issues around transport, health, adult and child social care, security, energy, housing, the environment and communications all of which can impact upon the daily lives of citizens. 

In addition to addressing these city problems, local authorities and other public sector agencies are being challenged to become more efficient in the delivery of services.

The national Industrial Strategy identifies the urgent need to increase the UK’s productivity. Dorset has a productivity gap of £2.5 billion. Businesses regularly cite poor broadband and mobile connectivity as a major hurdle to effective productivity.

In 2017 Bournemouth was identified by ‘Which’ magazine as having the worst 4G coverage of any major city in the UK.

At our business conference this year local businesses cited transport as the largest, and digital connectivity as the third largest obstacle to increased productivity.  It is estimated that traffic congestion in the Bournemouth city region costs the local economy £275 million per annum and poor digital coverage £150 million per annum.

The implementation of the latest digital technology, including 5G, supported by long term spectrum licences that incentivise and enable long term investment, will help improve both transport and digital connectivity helping to address the productivity gap and deliver significant economic benefit to the region.

With 5G we will see huge advances in innovation, and the opening up of new opportunities for a variety of sectors, including the major digital and advanced manufacturing sectors in Dorset. Within the Dorset LEP area there is the potential to not only create over 2,000 new jobs but also play a key role helping the UK lead globally on this new digital technology.

5G will be a lever for inward investment.

Dorset LEP and the region’s two unitary councils are already actively engaging with private investors looking to invest heavily in Dorset and specifically into innovative 5G and digital technologies. They have highlighted the fact that the investment community sees the UK as a ‘safe haven’, ahead of many other countries including those in the EU, and that significant capital is held by investors in London. These investors are now ready to invest into digital technologies which they see as a major new opportunity. This investment could rapidly accelerate digital innovation in the UK and help deliver government’s ambition for the UK to lead on digital technologies.

Dorset LEP has fully supported Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council’s 5G infrastructure plans and now backs the Council’s drive to persuade Ofcom to grant longer-term spectrum licences to places. It supports the argument that it is in the interests of citizens and businesses for places to act as neutral hosts, to encourage the innovation and deployment of this important technology without being constrained by third-party market forces and potentially expensive data communication costs which can hinder investment and innovation.

Dorset LEP recognises that whilst momentum has built in Bournemouth, the 5G opportunity will benefit the entire Dorset economy. This is just the start of a wider ambition for a digital Dorset. Dorset’s Local Industrial Strategy will address the unique opportunity based on the region’s distinctive demographic profile to deliver new solutions using medical and care technology and new ways of working. 

5G is the 5th generation mobile network – it will play a much larger role than previous generations. It will elevate the mobile network to not only interconnect people, but also interconnect and control machines, objects, and devices. It will deliver new levels of performance and efficiency that will empower new user experiences and connect new industries.

But what is the role of the local authorities in deploying 5G infrastructure at large scale across a city or region? How can we collectively translate the real-world benefits of 5G into value that will enable the new market places, partnerships and business models of tomorrow, ensuring sustainability? And how can we benefit communities in a way that is truly transformational? 

Bringing together key 5G stakeholders, this free one-day conference will provide an opportunity to consider these questions as well as gaining an understanding of the technical and practical aspects. Whether you are looking to learn from other 5G projects or be part of the conversation that’s helping shape the UK’s 5G future, this is a must-attend event." 

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