Westminster eForum

Since lockdown, we have been organising our full programme of conferences online. We will continue online until further notice, to ensure we play our part in helping our employees and delegates to remain safe during this time. We are pleased that so many key stakeholders, policymakers and other interested parties - both old friends and new delegates - are taking up the opportunity to discuss public policy issues and network at our impartial seminars. New events are coming on to our conference programme all the time. So there are plenty of opportunities for you to join us if you haven’t already, from wherever you are. For booking-related queries, or information on speaking, please email us at info@forumsupport.co.uk or contact us using one of the following numbers: +44 (0)7538736244 / +44 (0)7503591880 / +44 (0)7951044809.
For delegates already booked on, we will send you the online joining instructions (including links, event numbers and passwords) five working days before your conference. If you cannot find these in your inbox please email delegate.relations@forumsupport.co.uk

Next steps for UK mobile - market dynamics, coverage, spectrum and 5G development

Morning, Thursday, 29th April 2021

***Full-scale policy conference taking place online***

This conference will examine the next steps for the development of the UK mobile market and 5G services.

Taking place ahead of the upcoming spectrum auction for the 700MHz and 3.6-3.8GHz bands, areas for discussion include:

  • competition and latest market developments, including moves to diversify supply chains
  • consumer habits and changing priorities, particularly in the context of the pandemic
  • 5G rollout, spectrum allocation, the evolving regulatory landscape
  • innovation, infrastructure and investment
  • coverage in rural and remote areas
  • next steps for policy and regulation

The conference is bringing together stakeholders with key policy officials who are due to attend from DCMS; Ofcom; HMRC; the UK Space Agency; the Government Legal Department; The Scottish Government; and the Welsh Government.

The agenda:

  • The UK mobile market - emerging trends and issues
  • Mobile and the pandemic - changes in consumer behaviour and consumption, how operators are innovating their offerings, and priorities for improving customer experience
  • Market dynamics and future growth - competition, service and support for consumers, and next steps for improving mobile coverage in remote areas
  • Mobile market regulation in an evolving landscape
  • Supporting innovation in services and technology - tackling the key challenges for rolling out 5G across the UK, encouraging investment, and priorities for spectrum allocation
  • Next steps for policy, regulation and keeping the country connected

Key areas for discussion:

  • the mobile market - the changing landscape and key developments in the sector, including M&A activity and consolidation, and new services and devices
  • consumers - the impact of changes in behaviour and consumption during the pandemic and how operators have adapted:
    • consumption and habits - what do recent increases, reported by Ofcom, in both mobile data and voice traffic compared to before the Spring lockdown mean for the market going forward
    • service innovation - assessing the effect of changes to the offerings from operators during the pandemic
    • corporate citizenship - how they have responded to consumer and societal needs, for example the offer of free data to disadvantaged families to support children with remote learning
    • customer experience - including discussion on the ban on selling locked handsets, the push for greater consumer transparency, and enabling quick and easy provider switching
  • competition:
    • market dynamics - key developments, including M&A and consolidation, and what they mean for the industry, their customers and overall sector growth
    • developments in services and devices
  • the supply chain - including the Government’s 5G Supply Chain Diversification Strategy aimed at attracting new suppliers, and opportunities following the withdrawal of Huawei involvement
  • coverage in rural and remote areas:
    • Shared Rural Network - progress and priorities for rollout, and what more needs to be done to improve mobile coverage in these areas
    • priorities for infrastructure improvements - in order to improve connectivity ahead of rollout of 5G networks
  • 5G rollout, spectrum allocation, the evolving regulatory landscape:
    • tackling the key challenges of rolling out 5G - and the future for 700MHz and 3.6-3.8GHz bands ahead of the upcoming auction
    • diversifying the 5G supply chain - key challenges and the Government’s strategy, which includes plans for:
      • supporting incumbent suppliers
      • attracting new suppliers into the UK market
      • accelerating open-interface and interoperable technologies
    • demonstrating practical applications of 5G - as well as wider innovation and technology priorities in the sector and the evolving regulatory landscape
    • addressing the challenges of attracting investment into digital infrastructure such as 5G and its role in tackling the digital divide
  • next steps for policy and regulation

A scan of relevant developments:

  • market dynamics, the impact of the pandemic and improving customer experience:
    • Market structure, investment and quality in the mobile industry - Ofcom’s study on the impact of investment and service quality of competition in the sector
    • Mobile firms to be banned from selling ‘locked’ handsets - part of measures announced by Ofcom in implementing the new European Electronic Communications Code
    • Connected Nations 2020 - including findings from Ofcom that use of mobile devices and mobile data increased in lockdown
    • 5G usage - the EE Mobile Network Index ­report finding an increase of 40% month on month throughout October to December
  • key issues for regulation, 5G rollout and supporting technology and innovation:
    • Award of 700 MHz and 3.6-3.8 GHz spectrum by auction - Ofcom’s update on timing, with bidding due to begin in March 2021
    • Consultation: Supporting the UK’s wireless future - Our spectrum management strategy for the 2020s - from Ofcom on their approach to supporting wireless innovation and spectrum sharing
    • 5G market diversification and wider lessons for critical and emerging technologies - report by the House of Commons Science and Technology committee stating that the Government’s decision to ban Huawei from 5G networks has left the UK overly reliant on a small group of 5G technology suppliers, causing delays in rollouts and adding costs
    • 5G Supply Chain Diversification Strategy - from the Government with an initial investment of £250m for implementation
    • Superfast Broadband Programme - State Aid Evaluation Report 2020 - the DCMS-commissioned independent study finding that the Government’s Superfast Broadband Programme has secured faster connections for 5.5m homes and businesses, and created significant economic and social benefits since roll out
    • Broadband and the road to 5G - the DCMS Committee report including calls for the Government to do more to ensure that rural and remote areas do not get left behind
    • £28m to trial innovative new uses of 5G to improve people’s lives - joint government-business investment in projects including 5G-powered cargo ports, and visitor experiences at the O2 Arena, MK Dons stadium, and the Eden Project

Policy officials attending:

Our forums are known for attracting strong interest from policymakers and stakeholders. Places have been reserved by parliamentary pass-holders from the House of Commons and officials from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport; the Government Legal Department; HM Revenue and Customs; Ofcom; the UK Space Agency; The Scottish Government; and the Welsh Government.

Overall, we expect speakers and attendees to be a senior and informed group including Members of both Houses of Parliament, senior government and regulatory officials involved in this area of policy, as well as from key stakeholders from the mobile, telecoms and technology sector, their advisors and suppliers, data professionals, technologists, consultants, lawyers, organisations and individuals representing the views of consumers and citizens, academics, educational and research institutions, together with reporters from the national and specialist media.

This is a full-scale conference taking place online***

  • full, four-hour programme including comfort breaks - you’ll also get a full recording and transcript to refer back to
  • information-rich discussion involving key policymakers and stakeholders
  • conference materials provided in advance, including speaker biographies
  • speakers presenting via webcam, accompanied by slides if they wish, using the Cisco WebEx professional online conference platform (easy for delegates - we’ll provide full details)
  • opportunities for live delegate questions and comments with all speakers
  • a recording of the addresses, all slides cleared by speakers, and further materials, is made available to all delegates afterwards as a permanent record of the proceedings
  • delegates are able to add their own written comments and articles following the conference, to be distributed to all attendees and more widely
  • networking too - there will be opportunities for delegates to e-meet and interact - we’ll tell you how!

Full information and guidance on how to take part will be sent to delegates before the conference

Keynote Speakers

Louise Lancaster

Head of Mobile & Spectrum Policy, Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport

Professor Dimitra Simeonidou

Co-Director, Bristol Digital Futures Institute, and Director, Smart Internet Lab, University of Bristol


Flick Drummond MP

Officer, All-Party Parliamentary Group on Broadband and Digital Communication


Nick White

Executive Vice President, International Telecoms Users Group

Diane Mullenex

Partner, Pinsent Masons

Alastair Davidson

Director, Wireless Infrastructure Group

Professor Rahim Tafazolli

Director and Founder, Institute of Communication Systems and 5G Innovation Centre, University of Surrey

Paul Morris

Head of Government Affairs and Sustainable Business, Vodafone

Simon Miller

Head of Government Affairs, Three

Mark Balfour

Head of Mobile & Wireless, Cityfibre Holdings