UK Government Unveils Plans to Speed Up Rollout of 5G Technology

The UK government has announced plans to speed up the rollout of 5G technology, which could have major implications for cybersecurity as experts warn that it will expand the attack surface for cyber-criminals.

Under the proposals, mobile companies will be allowed to make new and existing masts up to five meters taller and two meters wider, allowing operators to fit more equipment so they can be shared easily.

This is expected to have a particularly big impact for countryside areas, as it will mean rural communities will need fewer masts to get a better signal as well as be able to more easily take advantage of 5G-connected technology. As a result, this will reduce the build time and cost of new telecom infrastructure as well as minimize the visual impact of masts.

Also included in the joint technical consultation between the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) are reforms to allow greater flexibility for installing cabinets in existing compounds to support new 5G networks. The consultation will last for eight weeks, closing on June 14, 2021.

The proposals are part of the previously stated desire of the UK government to put the country at the forefront of 5G technology. While the growth in 5G offers opportunities for advancements in cybersecurity, experts have warned that it will expand the attack surface for cyber-criminals, as a result of the likely rise of IoT devices and the potential for the development of so-called “smart cities.”

The final report of the Telecoms Diversification Taskforce, set up to provide independent advice on how to boost competition and innovation in the UK telecoms market, has also been published today. This follows the decision last year by the UK government to remove Huawei equipment from Britain’s 5G network by 2027 due to national security concerns. Among its recommendations, the taskforce has advised policy interventions to support the entry of new vendors into the UK market and to identify opportunities to invest in long-term research and innovation to build UK capability for current and future generations of telecoms technology.

Matt Warman, Minister for Digital Infrastructure, commented: “Our £250 million strategy will unleash a wave of innovation across the UK and make sure companies have a wide range of revolutionary 5G technology to choose from that is trusted and secure.

“I welcome today’s report from the Telecoms Diversification Taskforce. It will be instrumental in helping us prepare our networks for next-generation mobile technologies. We will now consider its recommendations and respond in due course.”

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