New recommendations for diversifying 5G supply market

The Telecoms Diversification Taskforce has outlined solutions and opportunities to diversify the supply market for 5G with the publication of its findings and final report. The taskforce was commissioned by the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport to provide independent expert advice to the government. It was chaired by Lord Ian Livingston, former BT CEO and former trade minister.

This comes following a six-month process and, in line with the 5G Supply Chain Diversification Strategy, the Taskforce has focused on diversification challenges and opportunities within 5G mobile access networks. Its recommendations are in four key areas – telecoms standards; regulatory policy; accelerating the adoption of Open RAN; and long-term research and innovation to build UK capability.

The taskforce has also recommended that, as it moves into the implementation phase, the government retains an external advisory group in some capacity. That group should scrutinise the implementation of the government’s strategy, assess and monitor its success, and further shape work as the government assesses the need for diversity across the broader supply chain.

In response, Matthew Evans, director for markets at techUK, said, “The Taskforce is right to identify 2021 as a ‘moment in time’ opportunity for the diversification of the telecoms supply chain and the acceleration of innovative and open networks. We welcome the report’s findings and recognise the work undertaken by the Taskforce — clearly there are few silver bullets in telecoms diversification as the report identifies the complexity of spurring a nascent market and rolling out 5G at pace, and doing both securely and resiliently.

“Now the UK government needs to take up the mantle and drive action across these areas. The telecoms sector, and wider tech industry, is a ready and willing partner but we need detailed plans that supports incumbent suppliers, attracts new vendors, accelerates the development and adoption of new and open network architectures, and captures the economic opportunity available.”