Ed Vaizey Calls Mobile Broadband A “Huge Success Story” For The UK

Steve McCaskill is editor of TechWeekEurope and ChannelBiz. He joined as a reporter in 2011 and covers all areas of IT, with a particular interest in telecommunications, mobile and networking, along with sports technology.

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Minister says mobile has a huge role to play in the future of the country and the government will do everything it can to cope with demand

Ed Vaizey, Minister for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries, has called mobile a “huge success story” for the UK and said mobile broadband had an important role to play in the UK economy.

He told the Huawei Global Mobile Broadband Forum in London that although the UK had been criticised for the slow rollout of 4G, it could now boast the fastest take up of LTE in Europe and possibly the world.

Vaizey claimed that the perpetually-delayed auction of 4G spectrum had gone without a hitch and that although only O2 was obligated to provide coverage to 99 percent of the population, it looked as though all operators would match that target.

Maximising spectrum

The minister called the expected growth in demand for mobile services “a huge challenge for our mobile operators” and said the government had a responsibility to work with the mobile industry to ensure the technologies and coverage were sufficient to cope.

Ed Vaizey Huawei“The government has an important role to play here but so does Ofcom,” he said, claiming that the UK communications regulator was a “leader in innovative spectrum management” and that other organisations around the world were adopting its methods.

“We are looking forward to see how we make the best use of spectrum,” Vaizey added, promising that the government was looking to extract the maximum possible economic and social benefits from a finite resource, and would look at any technology that would improve mobile broadband in the UK, citing the 5G Innovation Centre at the University of Surrey as an example.

Government commitment

However he has called on the European Union to do more to harmonise spectrum across Europe, in addition to other proposals like the abolition of roaming charges.

“For the EU to remain competitive it needs to keep up with developments in the digital economy,” he said.

The government has pledged £250 million in public money to ensure that superfast broadband reaches 99 percent of the UK by 2018 and it is likely that 4G and other mobile technologies will be used to achieve this target, which has already been boosted by the £530 million committed towards the rollout of fibre in non-commercially viable areas of the country.

“We recognise the importance of the mobile sector in relation to growth in the UK,” added Vaizey.

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