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West Midlands plans 5G demonstrators


Mark Say Managing Editor

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West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) is planning a handful of demonstrations of 5G technology as part of its testbed programme for the networks.

WM5G, the company set up to run the programme, has indicated that it plans initiatives in infrastructure, healthcare and mobility.

This marks a step in the programme that was effectively launched last September when the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport awarded £25 million to the WMCA to develop a 5G testbed in the region.

A procurement notice from WM5G has set out the need for support in running ‘Popup 5G’ demonstrations at a site in Birmingham city centre, aimed at showing the benefits of various use cases to underpin further investment.

While it says it is most likely to run four demonstrations, it points to six main workstreams in the programme:

  • Infrastructure acceleration, helping mobile network operators to deploy 5G in partnership with local authorities.

  • An application accelerator, helping end user organisations and technology companies to explore the use of 5G and its integration with other technologies.

  • A citizen wellbeing testbed, which will run demonstrations of a number of uses around health and social care and emergency services.

  • A mobility testbed related to transport and travel in cities.

  • Manufacturing, related to industrial processes and logistics.

  • Construction, covering design and building.

When WMCA was awarded the funding last year it placed an initial focus on the health, construction and automotive sectors, and spoke of plans including ‘connected ambulances’, 5G for video links or hospital outpatient appointments and emergency consultations, and using ‘intelligent cameras’ to support safety on public transport.


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