The government has announced six winners of a £25m competition to pave the way for a rollout of 5G technology in the UK.
The announcement, made on the first anniversary of the government’s Digital Strategy, involves six projects led by SMEs, universities and local authorities representing the best of UK innovation, resources and expertise, from the Orkney Islands to the West of England.
Those taking part in the programme involves setting up testbeds across the country to spearhead efforts to make the UK a world leader in 5G networks. The investment also hopes to bring better public-private cooperation to explore the benefits of the network for rural communities, tourism and healthcare, as well as highlight progress to date on its strategy to create a digital economy fit for the future.
The winners will test the network across a range of applications, including smart farming with drones, using the ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT) to improve healthcare in the home, increasing manufacturing productivity and maximising the future benefits of self-driving cars. Each are part of a £1bn commitment through the Digital Strategy to accelerate the deployment of next generation digital infrastructure and drive forward new business opportunities in the network field.
Each testbed will receive grants between £2m and £5m as part of a £41m investment from private sector and other public sector funding to explore new ‘fifth generation’ mobile communications technologies that use high frequency spectrum to deliver internet speeds of over a gigabit per second.
The six winning projects in the 5G Trials and Testbeds scheme are: 5G RuralFirst (Cisco grant: £4.3m), 5G Smart Tourism (West of England Combined Authority grant: £5m), Worcestershire 5G Consortium – Testbed and Trials (Worcestershire Local Enterprise Partnership grant: £4.8m), Liverpool 5G Testbed (Sensor City grant: £3.5m), AutoAir: 5G Testbed for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (Airspan Communications grant: £4.1m), and 5G Rural Integrated Testbed (5GRIT) (Quickline Communications grant: £2.1m).
Minister of State for Digital and the Creative Industries Margot James said: “One year on from the Digital Strategy, we are delivering on our commitments to create a Britain fit for the future, with a thriving digital economy that works for everyone. The ground-breaking projects announced today will help to unlock 5G and ensure the benefits of this new technology are felt across the economy and wider society.”
The Digital Strategy was launched in March 2017 to drive the UK’s connectivity, telecommunications and digital sectors, and invest in industries, infrastructure and skills. It also focuses on building and maintaining public confidence in the use of data by businesses, while ensuring the power of data can be unlocked for innovation.