5G: Public Sector

Department for Science, Innovation and Technology written question – answered at on 16 May 2024.

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Photo of Chi Onwurah Chi Onwurah Shadow Minister (Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy), Shadow Minister (Science, Research and Innovation)

To ask the Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology, whether her Department plans to integrate 5G networks with public sector infrastructure; and whether she has had discussions with network providers on the role of public sector infrastructure in improving coverage.

Photo of Julia Lopez Julia Lopez Parliamentary Secretary (Cabinet Office), The Minister of State, Department for Culture, Media and Sport, Minister of State (Department for Science, Innovation and Technology)

Our 2023 Wireless Infrastructure Strategy sets out a range of measures to drive 5G adoption in the private and public sectors to ensure the UK can fully realise the benefits of 5G. This includes a commitment to drive innovation in public services, and for digital connectivity requirements for future users of infrastructure to be at the heart of planning for major infrastructure projects. This includes our commitment that all new hospitals are built with 5G or the equivalent technology.

My Department has regular engagement with network providers to explore how the public sector can be an early adopter of 5G and deliver our ambitions to improve 5G coverage nationally.

We have taken steps to encourage the use of public sector assets for wireless infrastructure deployment, including through the £7 million Digital Connectivity Infrastructure Accelerator programme, which helps local councils and the telecoms industry resolve the challenges involved with using publicly owned land, buildings and street furniture to host digital infrastructure.

DSIT has also awarded six local authority pilots a total of £1.3 million through our Smart Infrastructure Pilots Programme, to test “smart” multipurpose columns that provide wireless connectivity services and other uses, such as EV charging.

My Department has also published, via the Digital Connectivity Portal, - extensive guidance for local authorities and operators to help facilitate broadband deployment. This includes technical information, as well as examples of best practice.

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