The UK government has set an ambitious goal of achieving next-generation 5G mobile coverage to populated areas across the country by the end of the decade. The rollout of 5G is already underway, with all four of Britain's mobile networks - BT's EE, O2, Virgin Media O2 (owned by Telefonica and Liberty Global), Vodafone and Three - currently implementing the technology. According to reports, 77% of the population can already access basic 5G coverage from at least one provider.
However, the government has set its sights even higher, aiming for the next iteration of 5G - called standalone 5G or 5G Plus - to be widely available by 2030. The government hopes that the widespread adoption of 5G Plus will help to unlock new technologies like driverless vehicles, robots and drones.
Despite Vodafone and Three being in merger talks, the government has reiterated that there is no specific number of network operators required to ensure a competitive market. Both companies have claimed that merging would help to underpin network investment.
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In a statement, the government said: "All decisions on consolidation are for the Competition and Markets Authority". The government has also announced that it will invest £40m ($50m) in an innovation fund to encourage the adoption of 5G by businesses and public services.
The government's announcement comes as the UK looks to position itself as a leader in the development and deployment of new technologies. With 5G seen as a key enabler of these technologies, the government's ambition to achieve widespread coverage by the end of the decade is seen as an important step towards achieving this goal.
India is Actually Going to Do it Much Faster
While Britain has set eyes for the 2030 end for the widespread of 5G SA across its landscape, India will do it faster, with Reliance Jio driving the bulk of the 5G SA networks. Bharti Airtel is also expected to jump into the 5G SA train in the next four to five years as the adoption of 5G increases.