To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what plans she has for the roll-out of 5G in rural areas in Suffolk.
7 January 2020
The Government remains committed to becoming a world leader in 5G and providing a 5G signal to a majority of the population by 2027.
Towards this aim, the Government has taken steps to ensure that we build the right conditions for commercial investment in 5G. As a part of this, we have invested in a nationally coordinated 5G Testbeds and Trials Programme which continues to build the business case for 5G in Britain.
Two of the Phase 1 programmes funded through this scheme, 5GRIT and 5G RuralFirst, are specifically focussed on building a market for 5G use cases in rural areas. We are also providing funding for up to 10 rural-based 5G research and development projects over the next two years through the Rural Connected Communities initiative. We expect these projects to do important work in building the business case for 5G investment in rural areas, such as those within South Suffolk.
It is important to note that the vast majority of commercial rollout of 5G services will be delivered by industry, according to their own timeframes. All four Mobile Network Operators have already begun launching their 5G offerings and coverage is expected to be available in 50 major towns and cities by summer 2020.
In the interim, Government is working closely with the Mobile Network Operators on the Shared Rural Network proposal to provide high quality 4G coverage to 95 percent of the UK. This proposal will help tackle both partial not spots - area where this is currently only coverage from at least one, but not all operators - and total not spots - areas with no coverage from any operator, ensuring good 4G signal wherever people live, work and travel.
It is expected that harder to reach locations, such as rural areas within Suffolk, will see the greatest benefit from this proposal.