The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport has announced that 2G and 3G mobile networks will be phased out of use in the UK by 2033. This is part of the government’s measures to increase the security of telecoms supply chains and to support a smooth transition to faster mobile networks.
£50 million telecoms research
Digital Secretary, Nadine Dorries, announced the ambition, alongside £50 million of telecoms research and development projects, ahead of her first visit to the United States where she will meet with US Secretary for Commerce, Gina Raimondo.
“Today we are announcing a further £50 million to put the UK at the forefront of mobile connectivity and to make sure our telecoms networks are safe and secure now and in the future,” said Digital Secretary, Nadine Dorries.
The leaders will renew their commitment to diversifying the global telecoms supply chain and discuss shared ambitions and co-operation on transatlantic data policy. The Digital Secretary will meet with several senior ministers and officials on the four-day visit to Washington DC and New York to build cooperation on her digital and tech priorities.
Telecommunications Security Act
The announcement follows the recent passage of the Telecommunications Security Act through Parliament and forms part of the government’s £250 million strategy to build a more competitive, innovative and diverse supply chain for telecoms, to reduce the world’s over-reliance on a few equipment makers.
The government has agreed with the UK mobile network operators Vodafone, EE, Virgin Media O2 and Three that 2033 will be the date by which all public 2G and 3G networks in the UK will be switched off. The plans will free up spectrum - the radio waves used for sending and receiving information - to allow for the mass rollout of 5G networks, along with other future networks such as 6G.
The government and MNOs are also announcing new plans to boost innovation and accelerate the rollout of Open Radio Access Networks (Open RAN), enabling mobile networks to be built using a variety of different equipment suppliers.
Open networks can feature components from multiple suppliers within one mast site or allow for components to be exchanged or used as replacements at masts that, until now, have been kitted out by a single supplier.
The new plans include a joint ambition for 35 per cent of the UK’s mobile network traffic to be carried over Open RAN by 2030, £36 million in funding for fifteen projects to trial the technology across Scotland, Wales and England, and a £15 million cash injection for the SONIC prototype testing facility for next-generation telecoms tech.
Nadine Dorries will also meet with Director of the White House Office for Science and Tech Policy, Dr Eric Lander to discuss strengthening ambitions for the US-UK Technology Partnership which aims to foster collaboration on shared challenges across a range of issues including online safety, data and digital competition.
Dorries will also speak at a reception at the UK Ambassador’s Residence in Washington attended by a selection of digital, tech and cyber stakeholders from the US administration, think tanks, Congress and UK government. Here she will promote the upcoming UK National Cyber Strategy which will strengthen the country’s collective security and defend a free, open, peaceful and secure cyberspace.