In 1989, mobile phones were not much smaller than house‑bricks. And few people used them. But the UK government, convinced by its advisers that something very important was about to happen in personal communications, took the imaginative step of creating five mobile operator licences, based on new technology which was yet to be designed.
The UK was the first country to do this, and it started a cellular communications revolution in this country which would create an innovative and financially lucrative mobile communications industry. It also helped to create a global company – Vodafone.
Are we prepared for the 5G step-change?
In 2017 the present government hopes to be just as successful with its plans for the next mobile step-change, 5G. It’s a tough ask.
This is now the most competitive of global technology industries, defining leading technologies in microprocessors, battery tech and plastic displays. But the UK government believes it can help give local companies the opportunity to play a leading role in the creation of 5G mobile communications networks.