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Local government wins shares of 5G pot


Projects led by Worcestershire County Council and the West of England Combined Authority receive funding from DCMS to test the potential of new mobile networks

Two local and regional government bodies have won shares of the Government’s £25 million fund to develop potential uses for 5G networks.

Worcestershire County Council and the West of England Combined Authority (WECA) are among the six winners of the competition run by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) to support testbeds in the use of technology.

The NHS and academic bodies are also involved in the winning projects, which will test a range of applications for 5G.

The are part of a £1 billion commitment through the Government’s Digital Strategy to accelerate the deployment of next generation digital infrastructure and create new 5G business opportunities.

The Worcestershire project has received £4.8 million to focus on ways to increase industrial productivity through preventative and assisted maintenance using robotics, big data analytics and augmented reality over 5G.

Security by design

It will also have a cyber security aspect, with technology company QinetiQ providing assurances on the ‘security by design’ of 5G and IoT technology. Entrepreneurs will have the opportunity to test 5G capabilities in a new commercial tech accelerator located at the Malvern Hills Science Park.

Other partners in the project include the Worcestershire Local Economic Partnership, the 5G Innovation Centre at the University of Surrey, AWTG, Huawei, O2, BT and Malvern Hills Science Park.

WECA, meanwhile, has won £5 million to test the use of augmented and virtual reality in tourist attractions around Bath.

Content and technology developments will be provided by the BBC and Aardman with support from the University of Bristol's Smart Internet Lab. It will demonstrate self-provision of 5G and Wi-Fi and innovative mmWave backhaul, and address safety issues by providing emergency service capacity through network splicing.

Other winners

The leaders of the other winning bids are:

  • Cisco, which along with the University of Strathclyde has picked up £4.3 million for the 5G RuralFirst project to work on exploiting the potential for the networks in rural communities.
  • Sensor City, which is leading a consortium that includes public sector health suppliers and the NHS. It has won £3.5 million for a project linking 5G to artificial intelligence, virtual reality and the internet of things in the Liverpool City Region test bed.
  • Airspan Communications, which has £4.1 million to make 5G technologies available for the validation and development of connected and autonomous vehicles. It will also investigate how the connectivity solutions could be transferable to road and rail transport.
  • Quickline Communications, with £2.1 million to trial 5G across a range of rural applications, such as smart agriculture, tourism and connecting poorly served communities, using shared spectrum in the TV bands and a mix of local ISPs and self-provision. The aim is to ultimately make high quality connectivity available across Cumbria, Northumberland, North Yorkshire, Lincolnshire, Inverness-shire, Perthshire and Monmouthshire.

Margot James, the minister for digital and creative industries, said: “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.”

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