We caught up with Katherine Ainley, Ericsson’s CEO of UK & Ireland, at Connected Britain 2022 to discuss the UK’s 5G progress so far and what needs to be done to make the country a world leader in mobile technology
It has been over two years since the launch of 5G in the UK and yet for many people the technology still represents little more than a boost in speed – a far cry from the myriad of new experiences promised by technology’s hype-fuelled debut.
But why is this?
Part of the answer is that it is only in recent months, with the advent of 5G standalone, that the technology can really deliver the ultralow latency and high bandwidth that will enable some of the most exciting use cases, like augmented reality and network slicing.
But for Katherine Ainley, Ericsson’s CEO of UK & Ireland, the problem is much more systematic within the UK, suggesting that the country’s lacklustre 5G rollout speed has left the country unable to maximise its full potential.
“We’ve got to go faster,” said Ainley. “We’re at roughly 50% [coverage] of the UK population right now. We’re not in that top 15 of countries globally in terms of 5G rollout and I think we’re really in danger of falling behind.”
According to Ainley, the government must go further in putting 5G – and connectivity more generally – at the heart of their agenda, particularly when it comes to economic growth.
“DCMS [Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport] is pushing really hard […] but what I’d really like to see is the other government departments really grasping hold of 5G and connectivity as a whole,” said Ainley. “It’s often that connectivity is a little bit of an afterthought, whereas if you build it in from the beginning you can get much more of a benefit.”
In particular, Ainley highlights the enormous impact that 5G can have for industry and enterprises in the UK, urging companies to be creative with how they use the technology’s capabilities.
“My plea to lots of people out there is: use your imagination for how we can use 5G. What we saw with 4G is that it only really got going when the apps and the ways you could use them began to really bite,” she explained. “We need that same revolution on the business side for 5G.”
You can watch our full interview from the link below.
Is there a 5G North-South divide emerging in the UK? Join the experts in discussion at the upcoming Connected North conference live in Manchester