David Cameron promises 5G broadband for the UK

Prime Minister talks up development of ultra-fast mobile broadband.

Ultra-fast 5G connectivity will be winging its way to the UK soon, Prime Minister David Cameron has pledged at the CeBIT trade fair in Germany. 

Cameron used the annual tech event as an opportunity to detail how two UK academic institutions are collaborating with the University of Dresden to develop 5G technology.

"[5G] is a prize that researchers all over the world are going for and so I am delighted to announce a new collaboration, between the University of Dresden, King's College University in London and the University of Surrey," the Prime Minister said in a speech made to delegates at the Hanover-based tech conference.

"Three world-leading universities working on 5G hand in hand that is something to be truly excited about."

The Prime Minister claimed that, with 5G technology, it would take just one second to download an 800MB movie to a mobile device 40 times faster than when using 4G for the same task.

No information was given on how much, if any, public funding was being made available to speed the research along.

However, independent of this collaboration, the University of Surrey is working with a consortium of organisations to create a specialised 5G Innovation Centre on its main campus in Guildford.

The University received 11.6 million in autumn last year from the Higher Education Funding Council of England in Autumn. It will also receive contributions in the form of time and expertise from a number of vendors, including Huawei, Samsung and Telefonica - the financial equivalent of which would total more than 30 million.

Talk of what 5G can do and the developments being made are perhaps a little premature though, warned Matthew Howett, telecoms and technology analyst at Ovum.

"It is not surprising the Prime Minister's statement about 5G is somewhat lacking in detail, as the standard has not even been defined yet," he told IT Pro.

Howett said there is a power struggle going on for pre-eminence in communications technology - akin to the space race - between Europe and the rest of the world.

"I understand why David Cameron, Angela Merkel and others in Europe are signalling their interest, but currently it is meaningless," he said.

Howett added that, irrespective of who develops 5G first, there will be a need for international co-operation and unified standards, but that we are "many years away from developing this technology".

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