State of 5G in UK Right Now?

I received a response to an information request sent to the UK Government last month about 5G piloting and rollout.

The questions were broadly similar to the ones put in the Freedom of Information request answered so spectacularly yesterday where the Scottish Government cleanly admitted shirking all responsibility for potentially lethal 5G, including where public health is a rising issue.

No, today’s response from the UK Government would be a delight to those tech journalists and bloggers who get excited by a world of tech wonder without regard to the real cost to public health and even privacy.

Digital Survivor visitors – yes, that means both of you – probably already see from your own research that current 5G developments are a perfect blueprint for nothing less than a mass surveillance matrix and ultimate kill-grid.

This technology is built for machines, not designed for living beings.

Up-to-date picture of where 5G is at

Although the received response is in some ways as dull as ditch-water to these eyes,  it does provide an interesting and up-to-date statement from government as to what’s happening and where with 5G in Britain.

The document actually is worth a read, if only to get a good overview of current developments in terms of projects, finance, business start-up help, etc.

For example, it’s made clear that the government’s role in 5G is both limited and minimal, perhaps understandably preferring instead that private commercial interests take the lead.

Problem is, the UK Government is shirking its duties towards public health and safety. As in the Scottish example yesterday, plans to proliferate mega-powerful 5G tech raises wide and deep concerns over outdated and inadequate safety guidelines being used to set public health standards.

Full text below:

Ministerial Support Team
4th Floor
100 Parliament Street
London SW1A 2BQ

6 February 2019

Thank you for your emails of 10 and 12 January to the Freedom of Information team at the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), regarding 5G pilot projects and rollouts. We have treated your requests as correspondence because they are not a request for recorded information, and to respond to the questions raised requires an explanation. Please find answers to your questions below:

Which UK cities will be involved in the 5G pilots and what dates are scheduled for each to commence?

As part of the government’s 5G Testbeds and Trials Programme, a number of 5G research and development projects are located in the following cities:

• Bristol and Bath – where the 5G Smart Tourism Project is testing 5G technology by providing enhanced visual experiences for tourists using Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) in major attractions, including the Roman Baths and Millennium Square.

• Liverpool – where the Liverpool 5G Testbed is using 5G technology to relieve the pressures of health and social care, including management of loneliness in older adults.

These projects are up and running and are on track to showcase new services and applications by April 2019.

The government is also working up plans for our Urban Connected Communities (UCC) project, which will set up a large-scale 5G testbed (also research and development) in an urban area in the West Midlands. This initiative, expected to launch in early 2019 and run until 2021, will see the development of a large-scale 5G pilot across the region, with hubs in cities such as Birmingham, Coventry and Wolverhampton.

Mobile network operators (MNOs) have also announced they will be running 5G trials in a number of cities across the UK. These are separate from government announcements and this information is available in the public domain. A few examples include:

• Vodafone announced 5G trials in Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Glasgow, Liverpool, London and Manchester, which are set to kick off between October and December 2018 [].

• O2 is launching a 5G testbed at the O2 Arena in London. Initially, 5G will be available in the O2 blueroom VIP bar, but by the end of 2020 the network aims


Page 2

to blanket the entire arena in 5G. Visitors to the O2 Arena will be able to enjoy 5G demonstrations of things like virtual reality, augmented reality and live streaming applications [].

• In November 2018, EE announced 5G launch locations in six launch cities – including Hyde Park in London, Manchester Arena, Belfast City Airport, the Welsh Assembly, Edinburgh Waverley train station and Birmingham’s Bullring. As well as the six launch cities, through 2019 EE will also be introducing 5G across the busiest parts of ten more UK cities: Glasgow, Newcastle, Liverpool, Leeds, Hull, Sheffield, Nottingham, Leicester, Coventry and Bristol []

When is the final rollout process anticipated to start and what are the criteria for deciding on a pilot’s success or failure?

Whilst the vast majority of investment in 5G will need to be made by the private sector, the government has taken a proactive approach towards funding research and trials of 5G networks.

The government’s primary role will be to create a policy and regulatory environment which will ensure the right conditions for the development, and support the deployment, of 5G networks.

In March 2018 the government selected six proposals from across the UK as the winners of the first Phase of funding from the 5G Testbeds and Trials Programme. These projects are categorised as research and development and are intended to increase understanding and awareness of the opportunities and challenges related to 5G. A successful project is one that results in information that increases this understanding and shares it among interested parties.

(Nothing about public health at this point, but see further down – Digital Survivor comment.)

How much total money is being invested in the pilots and how much will be invested in the eventual rollout in the UK?

The government has, so far, allocated £200 million from the National Productivity Investment Fund (NPIF) to the 5G Testbeds and Trials Programme. While the government is supporting the development of 5G through the 5G Testbeds & Trials Programme, the vast majority of the capital investment required for both full-fibre and 5G rollout will need to come from the private sector.

How much public money is being spent on the 5G pilots in the UK

So far, the government has spent on the 5G Programme:

• £16 million spent on the creation of a 5G Test Network, a collaboration between three leading UK universities (the 5G Innovation Centre at the University of Surrey, King’s College London and the University of Bristol).

• £25 million for six 5G testbeds across the UK as part of the first phase of the 5G Programme to test 5G technology in a number of sectors.

At Autumn Budget 2017, £159 million was allocated for testbed and trials activity between 2018 and 2021, including:

• £5 million for an initial trial, starting in 2018, to test 5G applications and deployment on roads including helping to test how we can maximise future productivity benefits from self-driving cars.

• £10 million to test the security of 5G networks, working with the National Cyber Security Centre.

Page 3

• Creation of large-scale testbeds – the Connected Communities projects in both rural and urban settings.

• The location for the a large-scale 5G testbed, the Urban Connected Communities (UCC) project, has been announced as the West Midlands, with up to £50 million available to the project.

• In September 2018, we announced £25 million for sector-led application trials, including initial projects in manufacturing and logistics.

How much public money is likely to be spent on the eventual 5G rollout across the UK?

The 5G Programme is not a delivery programme, it is an innovative testbeds and trials initiative.

The Programme was launched in late 2017 and will run for a number more years before decisions are made on any public support for rollout.

How much private money is being invested in the 5G pilots and the eventual rollout in the UK?

Between April 2018 and March 2019, each of the six 5G testbeds can received up to £5 million in government grants, as part of a total investment of over £40 million. This included private sector match funding and other public sector sources, as set out by State Aid regulations. For example, the Smart Tourism project, which will use AR/VR to link premier tourist destinations in

Bristol and Bath, is set to cost a total of £7,970,131. From this figure, up to £5 million will be sourced from a government grant, while £2,970,131 will be sourced from the private sector.

The 5G Programme is not a rollout programme. The UK Mobile Network Operators will decide how much they will invest on 5G network deployment, as part of their market strategies.

Which commercial companies are taking part in the pilots and the eventual rollout in the UK?

The six 5G research and development projects that were selected as part of the first phase of the 5G Programme are made up of consortiums partners including academic institutions, small- medium enterprises (SMEs), local authorities and mobile network operators. More information about each project’s partners can be found here [].

As part of our 5G strategy, the government is also working closely with mobile network operators (MNOs) to tackle some of the barriers to 5G deployment. We believe MNOs will play a part in the future phases of the 5G Programme, and will be key to the eventual rollout in the UK.

What infrastructure (e.g., cell towers and small cell units) will be put in place to facilitate the 5G pilots in the UK? Where will they be sited and will there be a planning application process required?

The 5G pilot projects test 5G connectivity in a number of sectors using new infrastructure to test 5G technology. For example, the Smart Tourism project will link premier tourist destinations in Bristol and Bath, where edge wireless connectivity services will be provided through a mixture of 5G, mmWave,

(And so use of millimetre wave is confirmed – Digital Survivor comment.)

Page 4

4G and WiFi solutions, operated by a sliceable virtualised core network provided by Nokia and the University of Bristol, and located at the University of Bristol.

End users will access the network through mobile phones/tablets and other devices. For this project no cell towers are being planned as the network builds on the network already deployed by the University and local authorities and outdoor units are small and mounted on buildings with some on lamp posts.

Planning for the deployment of telecoms infrastructure, including the 5G testbeds, is governed by the Town & Country Planning Act 1990 and the General Permitted Development Order. The requirements in each case will depend on the type of equipment being installed or deployed. Some installations require a full planning application and others fall within Permitted Development.

What health standards are being applied to the 5G pilots and eventual rollout in the UK? When were they devised and by whom?

Public Health England’s (PHE’s) Centre for Radiation, Chemical and Environmental Hazards (CRCE) takes the lead on public health matters associated with radio-frequency electromagnetic fields, or radio waves, used in telecommunications.

Central to PHE advice is that exposures to radio waves should comply with the guidelines published by the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP).

ICNIRP is formally recognised by the World Health Organization (WHO). A considerable amount of research has been carried out on radio waves and we anticipate no negative effects on public health.

(No, ICNIRP standards are both outdated and provenly inadequate in scope for today’s technology let lone 5G – Digital Survivor comment.)

A summary of PHE advice on radio waves can be accessed in the following link:

PHE is committed to monitoring the evidence applicable to this and other radio technologies, and to revising its advice, should that be necessary.

Which department of the UK Government is taking the lead in 5G piloting and eventual rollout? DCMS? Or the Treasury? Or … ?

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport has responsibility for the UK’s Digital Infrastructure including telecoms networks. The DCMS 5G Testbeds and Trials Programme is running a series of projects across the UK to deploy new wireless infrastructure and test 5G technology in a number of sectors to create new applications and services. The Programme will help identify deployment, business and technical challenges that may impact future 5G networks.

The 5G Programme is a cross-government effort. DCMS is working with other government departments, such as the Department for International Trade, as well as arms length bodies, such as Innovate UK, to help develop the 5G ecosystem and attract inward investment to the UK.

How will people be notified when 5G starts being piloted in their area and later rolled out in the UK?

Page 5

The government has already made a number of public announcements through its website to inform the public of the Programme’s development and 5G trials testing. All government 5G announcements can be viewed here []. Updates on any 5G activities across the UK can also be found on the UK5G Innovation Network website [], which was created to boost and strengthen the development of the 5G ecosystem in the UK.

Who in which department of the UK Government agreed to the piloting and potential rollout of 5G technology in Scotland?

The 5G Testbeds and Trials Programme is a UK-wide initiative and is not limited to just one area.

It is a research and development programme that was announced as part of a wider initiative to boost the government’s digital infrastructure across the UK.

When was this and how was it done?

The 5G Programme was announced at Autumn Statement 2016, as part of the government’s announcement to invest over £1 billion of funding to boost the UK’s digital infrastructure. As noted in the UK Digital Strategy (March 2017), 5G is a critical component to deliver full fibre and the next generation of mobile connectivity. The 5G Strategy outlines the steps the government should take to make sure the UK becomes a world leader in 5G.

Yours sincerely,

Ministerial Support Team