O2 says that operators must not rush 5G and must be allowed to conduct extensive testing before commercial rollout

The UK must do more to overcome a number of crucial roadblocks on its journey to rolling out fifth generation mobile network, according to a senior representative from 02. 

Derek McManus, chief operating officer at 02, said that the UK government had made a good start by commissioning its barrier busting taskforce, but that more needed to be done to streamline the rollout of 5G in the years to come. 

"We welcome the government’s decision to set up the Barrier Busting Task Force to remove these hurdles. It’s a great start but we need to go further. There are several barriers that must be overcome so that network operators can roll out the critical mobile infrastructure that the UK society and economy is so dependent on," he said during a keynote panel session at the Connected Britain event in London on Wednesday.  

"Specifically, I am talking about the relationship between landlords and operators – this needs to be far more collaborative with an emphasis on recognising the fact that enhanced digital connectivity will benefit all. We need to reform planning laws, so that cell sites can roll out in half the time. We need a separate planning group for small cells. 

"All proposed new developments should have connectivity at their heart from the very start. We need to take the opportunity that lies before us, we need to get it right and nail 5G before its commercial launch," he added. 

McManus left conference goers in no doubt as to the importance O2 and its parent company Telefonica place on 5G, particularly here in the UK. 

"We consider 5G to be more than just pure connectivity. It will take connectivity between people, objects and systems to a whole new level. It won’t just connect our personal devices – it will create an integrated eco-system of connected buildings, transport and utilities, with the potential to transform every sector it touches, from transport to energy grids, from manufacturing to social and healthcare, to social and entertainment.     

"I am convinced that 5G is going to have a bigger impact on the way we live than any technology we have seen since the introduction of electricity," he said. 

McManus re-emphasised the importance of getting 5G right in the development stage and not being caught rushing the product to market.  

"As we know, trials are already taking place across the world but we need to get the beginning of the journey right and set the right ecosystems in place in the UK to allow 5G to flourish," he said.