The UK 2017 budget looks set to give 5G in the British Isles a significant boost. On Wednesday, 8th March 2017, the Chancellor Philip Hammond will unveil a new 5G strategy that will set out the plans to make the United Kingdom a world leader in the next major development of mobile technology.
The plans are part of an over-arching scheme to ‘Brexit proof Britain’ once the country has finally left the European Union. Much of this strategy is aimed at making the UK a stand-alone force where latest technology developments and research and development are concerned.
Part of the post-budget 5G strategy will explore ways to improve mobile data coverage on rail-lines and roads across the UK, focusing particularly on those areas that have become notorious as black-spots.
5G technology itself is still in its infancy but it has long been mooted as the next and most critical step in opening up truly fast and integrated data for everybody with a compatible device, and for seamless connectivity to be available to cars, buses, trains and other transport.
The hope is that 5G will finally connect us all at suitable speeds, no matter where we are; 24 hours a day and 365 days a year. It is the dawn of the always on, background connectivity that so many new technologies, from self-driving cars, to smart-glasses, watches and household appliances, will need to function properly and to seamlessly integrate into our lives.
In the Budget, Mr Hammond will pledge £16million for universities to trial and demonstrate the new technology and for a new centre of 5G expertise in government to drive forward this work.
Officials are also aware of how 5G could help improve public services; for instance, fast and reliable connectivity would allow doctors to discharge suitable patients and many of the elderly from hospital early, and monitor them at home. This would free up NHS beds and other facilities for those who need more hands-on care.
This would help to reduce pressures on primary care and A&E and could also be used to remotely monitor the health of people prone to heart attacks and other chronic or hereditary health conditions.
In addition to 5G technology, more than £500million will be spent on aiding universitys’ Artificial Intelligence (AI) projects, aimed at improving mankind’s ability to operate in extreme and hazardous environments. The money will be used to develop cutting-edge robotic machinery for off-shore and nuclear energy, space and deep mining applications.
There is also money earmarked in the Budget, for more fibre broadband connections to homes across the UK. With recent reports showing that some sections of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland still have speeds way below the national average, this couldn’t come too soon.
All-in-all, it looks like the UK’s 2017 Budget will be the most technologically biased ever, and is certainly a sign of the times. Check back here for updates following the UK Budget announcement on Wednesday 8th March 2017.