In a new report designed to shake up the British government and encourage it to divert more funds and energy into improving the country’s mobile infrastructure, a national commission ranked 4G access in the U.K. as 54th in the world. With British mobile users only able to access 4G connections about 53 percent of the time, this makes its network weaker than Panama, Peru, Albania, and Romania.
The National Infrastructure Commission was set up earlier in 2016 to investigate how viable it would be for the U.K. to become a world leader in 5G internet access. However, the report did not offer a positive outlook, suggesting existing 4G infrastructure was far behind other developed nations.
While the report concluded that developing a strong, reliable 5G data network would be important for Britain’s future, the caveats of what would be required to make that a reality, were lengthy.
For starters, the commission believes that a politician should act as a “digital champion,” taking the issue in hand and focusing on the steps necessary to bring about a widely available 5G network. It also charged the government and communication regulatory body Ofcom to instill a minimum service obligation to all parts of the U.K., so that no matter where consumers are, they can access basic services like texting and talking.
These should be in place as soon as possible, but no later than 2025, the commissioned warned.
Coverage for higher speed internet access must also be improved, especially along key rail travel roots and city centers, where it noted there were still considerable dropouts in service availability.
Although the current state of high-speed wireless internet of the U.K. is rather dire, the commission did have hope for the future. The chair of the commission, Andrew Adonis, said 5G was an opportunity for the U.K. to “start again,” and get ahead of other countries. However, he cautioned that to do so the government would need to “act now.”
Doing so he said, would usher in a new age of digital prosperity in the U.K., preparing it for connected vehicles, the internet of things and a new generation of small businesses who could take advantage of easily accessible, high-speed internet.