David Cameron backs 5G development efforts; pumps funds into 'Internet of Things'

UK Prime Minister David Cameron has announced fresh efforts on 5G research and pledged to pump millions of pounds into the 'Internet of Things' (IoT).

UK Prime Minister David Cameron gives his opening address to the 2014 CeBIT trade fair

UK Prime Minister David Cameron gives his opening address to the 2014 CeBIT trade fair

In an address to German Chancellor Angela Merkel and other delegates at the opening of the CeBIT trade fair in Hanover, Germany, Cameron said the University of Surrey, King's College University in London, and the University of Dresden will collaborate on developing fifth-generation mobile technology. Cameron said the trio will work together to develop a technology that is far faster than the LTE networks currently being deployed.

"With 4G, an 800 megabyte movie takes around 40 seconds to download; with 5G that would be cut to one second," Cameron said. To have "three world-leading universities" collaborate on that research is "something to be truly excited about", he added.

The Prime Minister also told the audience that the UK is pumping £73 million (€87.6 million/$121 million) into IoT development--an area he said offers huge potential to boost productivity, improve healthcare, cut energy usage, and make transport more efficient.

"We are on the brink of a new industrial revolution and I want us--the UK and Germany--to lead it," Cameron said.

The funding pledge almost doubles the amount the UK is putting into IoT research, the BBC reported.

Cameron said a fund of up to £1 million will be available to companies with innovative IoT technology ideas. He has also tasked the UK government's chief scientific advisor, Sir Mark Walport, with deciding  the direction that IoT technology research should take.

The Prime Minister also addressed the issue of spectrum--something members launching the 5G Public Private Partnership at the Mobile World Congress a fortnight ago said was becoming as rare as oil in the modern world.

Cameron said UK regulator Ofcom is "taking a flexible approach to the use of spectrum", and said a spectrum strategy due to be unveiled today aims to "double the economic benefits of spectrum to UK companies and consumers from roughly £50 billion today, to £100 billion in 2025.

"We'll do this by allowing new applications to come online, new kinds of mobile technologies to be used, more data usage to be enjoyed and greater broadcasting services to be made available," he added.

Ofcom has been heavily criticised by operators for a plan that could increase the fees they pay to use 900 MHz and 1800MHz spectrum fivefold. One analyst firm said the plan will effectively impose a one-off tax of £4.5 billion on the industry over 20 years.

Cameron said Germany and the UK have agreed to work together to promote European Commission goals for a single telecoms market in the region, and concluded with a call for the pair to work together on IoT and other technology developments

"Take British ingenuity in software, services and design add German excellence in engineering and industrial manufacturing and together we can lead in this new revolution," he said.

(conversion rates used--£1=€1.20104/$1.66815)

For more:
- see David Cameron's CeBIT speech
- see this BBC report

Related Articles:
Neelie Kroes says 5G can put Europe back in technology driving seat
NSN on path to 5G, but LTE still watchword in Europe
UK operators face 'one-off tax of £4.5B' under Ofcom 2G spectrum fee plans
Huawei predicts first 5G networks will go live in 2020
EU sets €700M budget for 5G research by 2020