CW Talk: Solving 5G rural connectivity: regulation or innovation?

Brought to you by CW (Cambridge Wireless)

The second of our CW Talks will examine whether technology can now bridge the “digital divide” given the tough economic realities of providing coverage to rural areas and asks the question “Do rural communities need something more radical? What new players may have a solution?”

About the event

Currently broadband mobile coverage in many rural areas in the UK is still woefully inadequate.  Most villages nowadays have their share of home workers and commuting professionals, all of whom need and should have excellent broadband to their homes.  This is finally being addressed through rollout of “super fast” DSL and fibre to the home, though many rural areas remain to be upgraded.  But broadband mobile coverage in the countryside lags far behind.  It’s a real headache for many that so far technology has failed to cure. Surely in this day and age it should be possible for everyone to have the same service or will rural areas just have to continue to suffer?  How would that affect the feasibility of autonomous vehicles on rural roads?  How could farmers reap the productivity benefits of 5G when there’s no coverage?

The second of our CW Talks will examine whether technology can now bridge the “digital divide” given the tough economic realities of providing coverage to rural areas and asks the question “Do rural communities need something more radical? What new players may have a solution?”

Is regulation the answer?  Should Ofcom impose coverage obligations on the MNOs to fix rural issues? Or should Government give local communities the tools to do it themselves, or provide subsidies to existing or new carriers?

Will 5G technology solve the problem?  Or will it, like its predecessors, fail to deliver to rural areas?

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On behalf of UK5G

UK5G is the new national innovation network dedicated to the promotion of research, collaboration and the commercial application of 5G in the UK.

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Hosted by Digital Catapult

Digital Catapult is the UK’s leading advanced digital technology innovation centre.

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The information supplied below may be subject to change before the event.




Introduction to CW Talks from Robert Driver, CEO, Cambridge Wireless (CW)


Welcome from event host: Dritan Kaleshi, Lead Technologist – Future Networks, Digital Catapult


Welcome from William Webb, CEO of Weightless SIG


Innovating to the farthest reaches: Mansoor Hanif, UK5G Advisory Board Member


Muddled expectations: solving rural connectivity: Richard Feasey, Independent Consultant and Director at Fronfraith Ltd.


Open forum




End of session followed by networking, wine, beer, soft drinks and canapes


Event closes


Richard Feasey

Richard is currently a Panel Member at the UK's Competition and Markets Authority and advises a number of public and private sector organisations. He was formerly a special adviser to the House of Lords EU Sub-Committee  and is currently an adviser to the National Infrastructure Commission. He is a Research Fellow at the Centre on Regulation in Europe and lectures from time to time at University College, Kings College London and the Judge Business School. Richard had a 25 year career in the telecommunications industry and was Director of Policy at Vodafone plc between 2001 and 2014, where he was responsible for Vodafone's engagement with competition and regulatory authorities across Vodafone's global footprint

Mansoor Hanif - CTO, Ofcom, UK5G Advisory Board Member, UK5G

Mansoor has 24 years’ experience of planning, building, optimising and operating mobile networks around the world. In 2011 Mansoor joined EE as Director of Network Integration and LTE, accountable for the technical launch of 4G as well as the Integration of the 2G/3G Orange and T-Mobile networks.

From 2013 he was Director of RAN, with responsibility for all of the EE radio access networks. Mansoor was a board member of MBNL (the joint venture of EE with H3G) until 2016.

At BT Mansoor was Director of the Converged Networks Research Lab from 2016 to 2018, and led deep and wide collaboration with UK Universities, innovators, and government bodies. He provided regular inputs to calls for evidence from the UK Government in relation to connectivity: ranging from 5G deployment pilots, rail connectivity and transport strategy to vertical industries.

Mansoor was closely involved in the foundation of several cross-industry initiatives to accelerate innovation with disruptive technologies: in the UK, he co-founded the Scottish Innovation Partnership, and also globally with the Telecom Infra Project (TIP), founding the Europe’s 1st TIP ecosystem acceleration centre in the UK.

In September 2018, Mansoor joined Ofcom as CTO and is also a member of the Advisory Board of the UK5G Innovation Network, the Satellite Catapult Advisory Group and the UCL Electrical and Electronic Engineering Industry Advisory Board

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Digital Catapult, 101 Euston Road, London NW1 2RA

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