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Budget 2016: UK to set out 5G strategy in 2017

The UK government will set out a strategy next year with the aim of becoming a "world leader" in '5G' mobile wireless communications, according chancellor George Osborne's Budget announcement.

The strategy will be informed by recommendations to be made by the National Infrastructure Commission before the end of 2016, the Budget 2016 paper said.

The Commission is to carry out "an assessment of how the UK can become a world leader in 5G deployment, and how it can take early advantage of the potential benefits of 5G services", it said.

Osborne confirmed that the government will "deliver a 5G strategy in 2017" and that it will be based on the National Infrastructure Commission's review.

IT and telecoms contract specialist Simon Colvin of Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind Out-Law.com, welcomed the announcement by the chancellor regarding 5G deployment.

"The ability to transmit and download data at the rate of tens of megabits per second or even gigabits per second will provide major benefits for citizens and businesses in the way they use technology in and out of the home or office," Colvin said.

The chancellor said he wants to "ensure the benefits of digital technology are felt by all businesses and individuals" and outlined plans to support the development of new broadband networks.

"The government will establish a new broadband investment fund, in partnership with private sector investors, to support the growth of alternative broadband networks by providing greater access to finance," Osborne's Budget paper said.

A broadband investment fund was an idea first outlined in the chancellor's Autumn Statement and Spending Review announcement last year.  At the time the government said: "Competition between broadband providers supports the delivery of the fast and reliable broadband a modern, productive economy needs. Innovative approaches to supporting the market will help deliver ultrafast speeds to nearly all premises." 

Colvin said: "The launch of the new broadband fund is welcome. This comes off the back of the success of recent pilot projects run by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport for alternative technologies and solutions and provides encouraging signs for the wider supplier community who are or want to be involved in this space."

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