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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?”

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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?

Find out more about CW Talks

You can follow @CambWireless on Twitter and tweet about this event using #CW_Talks.

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 - Inquiry Chair and Panel Member, Competition & Markets Authority

Richard is currently an Inquiry Chair and Panel Member at the Competition and Markets Authority, where he reviews mergers and other competition matters across a wide range of markets. He is also a Senior Adviser at the Centre on Regulation in Europe.

Between 2001 and 2013, Richard was the Policy Director at Vodafone plc, responsible for managing Vodafone’s engagement with regulators and competition authorities around the world. Prior to that, he had similar responsibilities for regulation and strategy at other telecoms companies in the UK and internationally.

In recent years, Richard has been a Senior Adviser to the Payment Systems Regulator, a member of the advisory boards of Gigaclear plc and Jersey Telecom, an adviser to the House of Lords Select Committee on Europe and lectured at Judge Business School, UCL and Kings College. He advises businesses and has served as an expert witness in the United States, Canada, Australia, South Africa and Europe.

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

Mansoor has 25 years experience of planning, building, optimising and operating mobile networks around the world. In 2011 Mansoor joined EE and was accountable for the technical launch of 4G as well as the Integration of the 2G/3G Orange and T-Mobile networks. Mansoor was Director of RAN and 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 collaboration with UK Universities, innovators, and government bodies. 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 internationally participated in the Telecom Infra Project (TIP). From September 2018 Mansoor is the CTO of Ofcom, the UK telecoms and media regulator. As CTO he is head of the technology profession across the organisation, ensuring that the technology aspects of all Ofcom’s policy work are informed and robust, and is a member of the Policy and Management Board (the decision-making body at executive level). He also leads Ofcom’s activities in network security & resilience as well as engagement with CTOs at our stakeholders, industry bodies and with Government. Outside of Ofcom, Mansoor is also a member of the Advisory Boards of the UK5G Innovation Network, the Satellite Applications Catapult and UCL Electrical and Electronic Engineering Dept.

Event Location

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Location info

Digital Catapult, 101 Euston Road, London NW1 2RA

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