Speaking in Parliament, Imran has urged the Chancellor to invest in the accelerated adoption of 5G internet technology across Yorkshire to allow the region to take advantage of the opportunities that it presents and rebalance the digital economy away from London.

According to research recently published by the Centre for Towns, the Yorkshire and the Humber region accounts for just 4.4% of all digital jobs in the country, whilst the South East alone makes up over half of these roles due to poor broadband connectivity hampering investment in the North. In Bradford, just 4,000 jobs are in the digital sector compared to 14,000 in Leeds and 11,500 in Manchester.

However, with the forthcoming rollout of 5G internet technology which will bring faster data speeds, higher capacity and faster responsiveness, there is a real opportunity to rebalance the economy in favour of the North according to Imran. The rollout of 5G is expected to be able to boost Yorkshire’s economy by as much as £1bn a year by 2025, andImran has therefore called on the Chancellor to make funding available for its accelerated adoption in Yorkshire.

The Government’s strategy for future digital infrastructure in 5G and full-fibre networks was set out in DCMS’s ‘Future Telecoms Infrastructure Review’ (FTIR) in July 2018, with funding support since 2016 allocated through the National Productivity Investment Fund (NPIF) which after extensions, now stands at £37 billion overall running to 2023 to 2024. The FITR set a target that “the majority” of the population would be covered by a 5G signal by 2027.

Speaking on his call for investment in better technology infrastructure in Yorkshire, Imran said:

“The Government’s plans for the rollout of 5G technology brings a real opportunity for us to rebalance a digital sector that has for too long been heavily weighted towards London and the South East at the expense of Yorkshire and the North, and the Government must honour commitments made to the Northern Powerhouse and ensure that funding is available for its accelerated adoption here.

“New 5G technology will open up a whole new world of possibilities in enhanced mobile broadband, in support for more interconnected devices and the ‘Internet of Things’, and in improved reliability to support near real-time communications, all of which Bradford is well placed to capitalise on with our young population, highly regarded University and renowned Media Museum if we are properly supported.”

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