UK parliament issues report on 5G market diversification and new strategy on emerging technology

The UK House of Commons Science and Technology Committee published a report titled ‘5G market diversification and wider lessons for critical and emerging technologies’, highlighting that the UK’s dependency on only two vendors in its 5G rollout poses risks to network resilience and security. It acknowledges that the UK government’s 5G supply chain diversification strategy has come too late to prevent such dependency and will take years to achieve success. The report also emphasises that the government must act urgently to assess its potential dependence on suppliers of emerging technologies. Noting that 5G is not only the emerging technology of critical importance to the future of the country, the report presents a set of recommendations for the current 5G rollout. The committee recommends that there should be an action plan accompanying the strategy. For example, it recommends the government to actively manage a programme of research and development initiatives that facilitate collaboration between the government, industry, and academia to meet its long-term objectives. Moreover, it recommends a range of measures to diversify the market, noting that while Open Radio Access Network (O-RAN) is one approach to accelerate diversification, it should not be considered a ‘silver bullet’ for 5G supplier diversification. Recognising that the UK accounts for a small portion of the global telecommunications market, the committee suggests a diplomatic action, recommending the government to establish a standing forum for international cooperation on diversifying the telecommunications market at the global level.