Just one in three Conservative MPs confident UK will hit 5G targets

Research from consultancy Cluttons claims that only one-in-three (34%) Conservative MPs are confident that the UK can meet Government targets for nationwide standalone 5G coverage by 2030.

Andrew Wooden

May 20, 2024

3 Min Read

The survey, conducted alongside YouGov, asked 104 MPs and 556 local councillors how confident they are that the UK will be able to achieve the Government’s target that the majority of premises (99%) have access to gigabit broadband and 5G by 2030.

As well as 34% stating confidence that the 5G targets would be met, only 44% of Tory MPs were confident that the broadband targets could be reached by 2030.

Labour MPs were even more pessimistic – none were confident that the broadband targets would be met and only 3% were confident that the 5G targets would.

71% of all MPs said that their constituents believed connectivity needed to be improved, however the survey claimed MPs are not confident that constituents understand the benefits of gigabit and 5G, with 42% claiming that constituents ‘frequently asked them questions about the broadband and mobile connections for their homes and businesses.’

The research also found that funding was perceived as a stumbling block for ‘creating a local strategic approach to connectivity.’

“The results from our survey show an alarming picture of the disconnect between the need for connectivity and the ability to deliver it - trust needs to be improved among all parties,” said Gráinne Gilmore, Head of Research at Cluttons. “The majority of MP respondents indicate that nationwide roll out of gigabit broadband and 5G is vital to ensure the UK remains competitive. Yet they are not confident that targets will be delivered on time. Helping the country understand all of the benefits of this connectivity that are outlined in our report needs to be a key priority for any Government.”

Darren Zitren, Head of Infrastructure at Cluttons added: “Connectivity impacts every single part of our day to day lives, therefore it is vital that we get it right on a macro and micro scale, with everyone having access to 5G and gigabit capable connectivity. The results of our survey reveal a significant gap between the demand for high-quality connectivity among businesses and individuals, and the lack of support for the infrastructure needed to provide this connectivity. The findings do however show that there is promise in achieving this through additional funding, infrastructure and most importantly, collaboration. This begins with the Government supporting a national information campaign to educate its MPs so the rollout can be implemented quickly, ensuring the UK can stay ahead of the curve.” 

While these targets relate to 5G and fibre, the Shared Rural Network is usually more of a talking point when it comes to the UK’s general ambition to improve connectivity. It was created as a partnership between government and the mobile operators to extend 4G coverage to rural areas, targeting 95% 4G landmass coverage by December 2025, and the cost burden is shared, with the operators contributing £532 million and the government £501 million.

However in February, The National Audit Office suggested that the operators may need more money to reach these coverage targets. The independent parliamentary body also questioned the government's business case with regard to the economic benefit of extending 4G mobile coverage to hard-to-reach areas and suggested that it may not meet the separate targets on rolling out 5G networks.

About the Author(s)

Andrew Wooden

Andrew joins Telecoms.com on the back of an extensive career in tech journalism and content strategy.

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