UK Gov promises not to meddle in the business of 5G

Pestering public servants are often the downfall of many great ideas, but according to Secretary of State for Digital, Media, Culture and Sport Matt Hancock, the UK Government is going to stay at arm’s length from the 5G rollout.

“In government, we are clear about our role; we are essentially an enabler, from spectrum policies through to the nitty gritty barrier busting to making deployment cost as low as possible,” said Hancock on a panel session at 5G World.

For some in the industry, this might come as a welcome relief. But whether the Minister for Fun can keep his hands on Rita Ora and off digital infrastructure remains to be seen. The internet has become a critical component of our lives, and delivering faster loading cat videos could be highly sought after PR fuel. We suspect the prize of being the face on the front pages might be too much of a temptation.

The theory is government is good at regulating, this is where it has developed experience, and this is where the focus should remain. Government action is about enablement, making it easier for the telcos to deliver much needed connectivity. This could be liaising with the Department of Transport for example, making it easier to dig up streets, or simplifying the red-tape maze for applications, but leave the business of deployment to the guys who know what they are doing.

“We’ve learnt a huge amount about regulating the space over the last few years, but in politics you have to decide what the outcome you want is and the best way to get there. Delivering infrastructure ourselves would be an absolute disaster, who remembers MIP,” said Hancock.

MIP, or the Mobile Infrastructure Project, was an initiative launched by the government in 2011 to address not spots throughout the country. The idea was for the UK government the process of setting up new cellular sites to fix the digital divide, and it was not a successful venture.

Hancock seems to have learnt lessons from the past; let telcos do telecommunications and government do governing. Hopefully Hancock and his cronies and stay true to this promise, but we suspect there might be some busybody bureaucrats who want to meddle in the process down the line.

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